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
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

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for police

Synonyms: Noun

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The announcement signals one of the most significant police deployments of facial recognition in the West, by one of the largest police forces in the democratic world. Will Knight, Wired, "London Cops Will Use Facial Recognition to Hunt Suspects," 25 Jan. 2020 The man told police that he had felt threatened by the woman’s body language. Bob Sandrick, cleveland, "Woman calls police when man wields handgun; woman drops her pants in City Hall: Brook Park Police Blotter," 24 Jan. 2020 In 2017, after global leaders committed to tackling AMR, more than 100 drug companies and industry associations formed a group—the AMR Industry Alliance—in part to police manufacturing discharges. Natasha Gilbert, Science | AAAS, "Industry says voluntary plan to curb antibiotic pollution is working, but critics want regulation," 24 Jan. 2020 Western forces commonly use software that compares a suspect’s facial features or gait with those recorded in libraries of biometric data compiled by police and intelligence agencies. The Economist, "Personal identification People can now be identified at a distance by their heartbeat," 23 Jan. 2020 Karlen earned an Emmy for his work playing Harvey Lacey, the husband to Tyne Daly’s NYPD detective on CBS police drama Cagney & Lacey. Sydney Bucksbaum, EW.com, "John Karlen, Dark Shadows actor and Emmy-winning Cagney & Lacey star, dies at 86," 23 Jan. 2020 By late afternoon Tuesday, police were still searching 10 locations in the states of Hesse, Lower Saxony and Bavaria. William Boston, WSJ, "Mitsubishi Offices in Germany Raided in Diesel Emissions Fraud Probe," 22 Jan. 2020 The intruder was arrested by police on Shane's patio and, according to him, was found with a backpack full of drugs. Kelsey Stiegman, Seventeen, "Shane Dawson Shares Terrifying Footage of an Intruder Trying to Break Into His House While He Was Inside," 22 Jan. 2020 Declining water quality is like a police siren alerting humanity to current, ongoing and emerging pollution problems. Boris Kondratieff, The Conversation, "Stoneflies and mayflies, canaries of our streams," 22 Jan. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Herrera, via Pris, plumbs all the ways brown and black sexuality is either policed or fetishized, allowing her heroine to work to free her community from these narrow, damaging dialogues with a vital, under-looked approach to social justice. Maureen Lee Lenker, EW.com, "Hot Stuff: New romances provide welcome balm for stressful times," 3 Apr. 2020 But policing hard-to-reach beaches hasn’t been easy. Christopher Harress | Charress@al.com, al, "When will people in south Alabama take coronavirus seriously?," 31 Mar. 2020 In cities and states where residents have been ordered to stay at home and nonessential businesses have been ordered to close, officers are shifting their time and energy to policing a new social order. Ben Chapman, WSJ, "Coronavirus Pandemic Changes Policing, Including Fewer Arrests," 27 Mar. 2020 Alongside its high-tech surveillance capacities, China has relied heavily on old-fashioned neighborhood policing to enforce its lockdown. Alex De Waal, The Conversation, "Don’t expect the coronavirus epidemic in the US to bring down President Trump," 18 Mar. 2020 Pixel Envy's Nick Heer noted that Apple was already failing to enforce the original language, so this seems like capitulation to what some developers have been doing for a while, perhaps in response to difficulty policing this consistently. Samuel Axon, Ars Technica, "Apple’s new App Store policies fight spam and abuse but also allow ads in notifications," 6 Mar. 2020 The Supreme Court says federal courts have no role to play in policing political districts drawn for partisan gain. Mark Sherman, Fortune, "Supreme Court Redistricting Decision Could Reshape Politics," 27 June 2019 An Indianapolis man who police say fatally struck a woman with his car earlier this month has been charged with murder. Elizabeth Depompei, Indianapolis Star, "Man arrested in fatal south side hit-and-run charged with murder," 31 Jan. 2020 In the character of the Lord, who ruthlessly polices every detail of his family’s life, Chraïbi created one of the most terrifying fathers in modern literature. Adam Shatz, The New York Review of Books, "Driss Chraïbi & the Novel Morocco Had to Ban," 2 Jan. 2020

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about police

Time Traveler for police

Time Traveler

The first known use of police was in 1589

See more words from the same year

Statistics for police

Cite this Entry

“Police.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/police. Accessed 6 Apr. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

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
How to pronounce police (audio)

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on police

What made you want to look up police? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Thing: Flower Edition

Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!