||[Jul. 2nd, 2008|08:09 pm]
Historical Origins of English Words and Phrases
cop, n. & v. [kop, kŏp]
-The person who requested this asked for the etymology for both the police officer and grabbing definitions. So, as for the former, cop was first recorded describing a police officer in 1859 C.E.. There are two theories as to its etymology. The first says it was a shortening of copper, a slightly older term with the same meaning. Copper was a synecdoche using the copper-covered buttons or shields (now obsolete) of a police officer as a symbol for the job (note that another slang term for officers is the brass.) Prior to this, copper was used as a verb for 'to cover, coat, sheathe in the metal copper.' The second theory says it comes from the earlier definition of the slangy verb cop 'to grab, snatch' that is often used in the phrase to cop a feel (1935). As a verb, cop originated in Northern Britain in the early 1700's. At that time it meant 'to capture, catch, seize' and was likely a variant of the now obsolete cap 'to arrest,' recorded in 1589. Cap was borrowed from Middle French caper 'to seize,' which came either directly from Latin capere 'to take' or through the Sicilian Italian dialect capere, with the same meaning.