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

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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 Kings Island officials say their security and the Mason police were called to the public drop-off area at 8:10 p.m. on Kings Island Drive. Natalya Daoud, The Enquirer, 14 June 2021 Tempe fire medical crews and Tempe police immediately began to treat the toddler who was found floating in a pool about 8 p.m. near McClintock Drive and Warner Road, Carbajal explained. Miguel Torres, The Arizona Republic, 14 June 2021 Police are asking anyone with information to call police at 202-727-9099. Washington Post, 13 June 2021 April 2008 - After Ebadi receives death threats, Iranian Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad orders a police investigation. Cnn Editorial Research, CNN, 13 June 2021 Anyone who sees the vehicle or has information should contact West Hartford police with case number 2100020761. Jessika Harkay, courant.com, 13 June 2021 Lindsay was arrested in 2009 in Massachusetts after officers seized less than one ounce of marijuana, the police report said. NBC News, 13 June 2021 In 2018 protests hundreds of government opponents were killed by police and other Ortega enforcers—helped by Cuban agents. Mary Anastasia O’grady, WSJ, 13 June 2021 Baltimore homicide detectives are investigating a man’s death after police say his body was found in the city’s Barclay neighborhood Sunday afternoon. Phil Davis, baltimoresun.com, 13 June 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb With such a meager response, the FBI will only release a list of participating agencies and no data whatsoever about how often police fire their weapons, cause serious injury or kill people. Washington Post, 9 June 2021 The suspects -- two sisters and one man -- allegedly shot at seven people in the early hours of June 3 in attacks caught on surveillance video, Cincinnati police public information officer Emily Szink said. Emily Shapiro, ABC News, 9 June 2021 Universities would police their own athletes without statewide oversight. Keith Jenkins, The Enquirer, 9 June 2021 But intelligence officials struggled with how aggressively to police political speech, and how to differentiate the real threats from typical internet nonsense. Marshall Cohen, CNN, 8 June 2021 Though many cheered Trump’s removal from social media following the Capitol insurrection, this case has also highlighted growing bipartisan concerns around who gets to police speech on the Internet. Ryan Kost, San Francisco Chronicle, 4 June 2021 The need: Help police better understand cultural norms to communicate better with several of San Diego’s diverse communities. Teri Figueroa, San Diego Union-Tribune, 3 June 2021 Protesters migrated away from downtown and began marching at night to police precincts in late summer. oregonlive, 28 May 2021 The Justice Department has in recent years stepped up its efforts to police compliance with the FARA law, which requires people who talk to U.S. government officials or the media on behalf of foreign officials to register that work. Aruna Viswanatha, WSJ, 26 May 2021

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

Middle English, "regulation of public affairs," borrowed from Middle French, "administrative organization, conduct of a collective body (as the government or church)," borrowed from Late Latin polītīa "citizenship, political organization, constitution of a state, administrative direction" (Latin, the title of Plato's dialogue The Republic), borrowed from Greek polīteía "body of citizens, citizenship, government, administration, constitution of a state, republican government," collective or abstract derivative of polī́tēs "citizen, freeman," from pólis "citadel, city, community of citizens, city-state" + -ītēs -ite entry 1; pólis going back to o-grade ablaut of an Indo-European base *pelH-, whence also, from zero-grade *pl̥H-, Sanskrit púr-, pū́ḥ "wall, rampart," Lithuanian pilìs "fortress, castle," Latvian pils

Note: The sense "government body charged with the maintenance of public order," apparently first current in Scotland in the eighteenth century or earlier, was borrowed from French, where it originated in the seventeenth century as a concretization of an earlier more abstract sense "public order." Middle French police is a doublet of policie policy entry 1; police developed from a variant of Late Latin polītīa with stress shifted to the second syllable, policie from a form with stress on the third syllable, its expected position by Latin stress rules. In English before ca. 1700 police appears to have usually been stressed on the first syllable (as also policy); this pronunciation remains regional in the British isles and the U.S. — Greek has a variant ptólis that occurs in Homer and in dialects (Cypriot, Thessalian, Arcadian). R. Beekes (Etymological Dictionary of Greek, Brill, 2009) suggests as an Indo-European reconstruction *tpolH- to account for this. The sequence -oli- in this word, with what appears to be o-grade, has been explained as a regular outcome of *-l̥h1- in Greek, which would make pólis directly comparable to Sanskrit púr-, pū́ḥ (see discussion in A.L. Sihler, Comparative Grammar of Greek and Latin, Oxford, 1995, p. 104; and K. Strunk, "Verkannte Spuren eines weiteren Tiefstufentyps im Griechischen," Glotta, Band 47 [1969], pp. 1-8).

Verb

in sense 5 borrowed from Middle French policier "to administer, govern, control," derivative of police "administrative organization"; in other senses verbal derivative of police entry 1

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Statistics for police

Last Updated

15 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Police.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/police. Accessed 21 Jun. 2021.

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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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