police

noun, often attributive
plural police

Definition of police

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : the department of government concerned primarily with maintenance of public order, safety, and health and enforcement of laws and possessing executive, judicial, and legislative powers
b : the department of government charged with prevention, detection, and prosecution of public nuisances and crimes
b  plural : police officers
3a : a private organization resembling a police force campus police
b  plural : the members of a private police organization
4 : one attempting to regulate or censor a specified field or activity the fashion police
5a : the internal organization or regulation of a political unit through exercise of governmental powers especially with respect to general comfort, health, morals, safety, or prosperity
b : control and regulation of affairs affecting the general order and welfare of any unit or area
c : the system of laws for effecting such control
6a : the action or process of cleaning and putting in order
b : military personnel detailed to perform this function

police

verb
po·​lice | \ pə-ˈlēs How to pronounce police (audio) \
policed; policing

Definition of police (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to control, regulate, or keep in order by use of police
2 : to perform the functions of a police force in or over
3a : to supervise the operation, execution, or administration of to prevent or detect and prosecute violations of rules and regulations
b : to exercise such supervision over the policies and activities of
4 : to make clean and put in order
5 archaic : govern

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Synonyms for police

Synonyms: Noun

law

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Examples of police in a Sentence

Noun

Police arrested a man whom they identified as the murderer. the appearance of a ransom note meant that the teenager's disappearance was now a matter for the police

Verb

The officers police the streets for reckless drivers. The coast is policed by the military. The international agency polices the development of atomic energy facilities.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

For example, police say the shooter suspected of killing 22 people at an El Paso Walmart confessed to targeting people of Mexican descent and is believed to have written an anti-Hispanic rant before gunning down mostly Latino shoppers. Amanda Seitz, Fortune, "False Claims Blur Line Between Mass Shootings, 2020 Politics," 5 Sep. 2019 Overall only 6% of South Bend’s police are black, although 26% of the city’s population is African-American. A.r. | Chicago, The Economist, "Why Pete Buttigieg is losing momentum," 4 Sep. 2019 Last spring, police were on the lookout for an armed man who robbed a half dozen King Soopers stores throughout the metro area. John Aguilar, The Denver Post, "King Soopers asks open-carry customers to leave guns at home," 4 Sep. 2019 Senler herself is also being investigated for a separate incident of assault involving Boateng, so police are eager to try and find out as much as possible about what has transpired between the two. SI.com, "Jerome Boateng Under Investigation for Aggravated Assault Against Former Fiancee," 4 Sep. 2019 Pool police might not always be around, but if your fellow passengers are violating these norms, don’t confront them yourself, says cruise expert Dana Freeman. Mark Ellwood, Condé Nast Traveler, "Cruise Ship Etiquette Tips: A Primer For Before You Sail," 4 Sep. 2019 The department had appealed to the public on its Facebook page for help in identifying suspects, which led to the arrests, police said. Elliot Hughes, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "West Allis police arrest 3 after rash of BB gun drive-bys," 4 Sep. 2019 Just a few hours before, police said another 25 kilos of cocaine washed ashore on the close-by Cocoa Beach. Sophie Lewis, CBS News, "Bricks of cocaine wash ashore in Florida after Hurricane Dorian," 4 Sep. 2019 The driver of the Mini, a 27-year-old Los Angeles woman, was not injured in the crash, police said. Luke Money, Daily Pilot, "Fountain Valley woman, 88, dies over a week after being injured in Huntington Beach crash," 3 Sep. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Though presented as a way of policing explicit content, the new rules, which will be enforced starting in September, have raised concerns for freedom-of-speech advocates. Umar Farooq, Los Angeles Times, "Turkey extends censorship rules to streaming services. Critics say political dissent is the real target," 21 Aug. 2019 As other researchers have examined, this is likely a problem of policing becoming a sort of catchall solution to every single problem that our society has. P.r. Lockhart, Vox, "Why police violence needs to be treated as a public health issue," 14 Aug. 2019 The deadly altercation and Sachs’ actions in the wake of his injuries will earn him one of policing’s highest awards — the Law Enforcement Congressional Medal of Bravery — at a Saturday ceremony. Lyndsay Winkley, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Chula Vista officer stabbed in the face to receive one of policing’s most prestigious awards," 27 July 2019 In closing arguments, attorneys on both sides of the case asked jurors to make a decision that would help set standards for policing in Dallas County. Dallas News, "Former Mesquite cop not guilty of aggravated assault for shooting unarmed man he mistook for burglar," 22 July 2019 When will people and corporations get tired of policing women’s bodies – especially Black women’s bodies? Breanna Edwards, Essence, "American Airlines Apologizes After Forcing Woman To 'Cover Up' Or Get Off The Flight," 9 July 2019 But if auditors can’t be trusted to do a thorough job of policing company accounts, then the minimal costs that companies currently pay are wasted money and there is no point to them at all. Paul J. Davies, WSJ, "Why Fixing Sloppy U.K. Auditors Matters for Wall Street," 18 Dec. 2018 During her nine-month fellowship, Lutheran examined homicide clearance rates and the impact of policing strategies in Milwaukee. Sydney Czyzon, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Grieving Milwaukee families call him in their worst moment. Who is the man at the other end of the line?," 29 June 2018 Even if brands can register the word, limitations on its use would only apply in specific contexts, in association with a logo or brand name, and any alleged infringements would have to be policed by the trademark holder. Ephrat Livni, Quartzy, "Brands are clamoring to trademark common words, like “the”," 22 Aug. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'police.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of police

Noun

1698, in the meaning defined at sense 5a

Verb

1589, in the meaning defined at sense 5

History and Etymology for police

Noun

French, from Old French, from Late Latin politia government, administration, from Greek politeia, from politēs citizen, from polis city, state; akin to Sanskrit pur rampart, Lithuanian pilis castle

Verb

in sense 5, from Middle French policier, from police conduct of public affairs; in other senses, from police entry 1

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Statistics for police

Last Updated

17 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for police

The first known use of police was in 1589

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More Definitions for police

police

noun

English Language Learners Definition of police

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: the people or the department of people who enforce laws, investigate crimes, and make arrests

police

verb

English Language Learners Definition of police (Entry 2 of 2)

: to control and keep order in (an area) by the use of police or military forces
: to control (something) by making sure that rules and regulations are being followed

police

verb
po·​lice | \ pə-ˈlēs How to pronounce police (audio) \
policed; policing

Kids Definition of police

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to keep order in or among Officers police the city.

police

noun
plural police

Kids Definition of police (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : the department of government that keeps order and enforces law, investigates crimes, and makes arrests
2 police plural : members of a police force
po·​lice
policed; policing

Legal Definition of police

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to control, regulate, or keep in order especially as an official duty police the area

police

noun
plural police

Legal Definition of police (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : the control and regulation of affairs affecting the order and welfare of a political unit and its citizens
2a : the department of a government or other institution that maintains order and safety and enforces laws
c  plural : the members of a police force

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More from Merriam-Webster on police

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with police

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for police

Spanish Central: Translation of police

Nglish: Translation of police for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of police for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about police

Comments on police

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