||[Oct. 24th, 2008|08:58 pm]
Historical Origins of English Words and Phrases
rozzer, n. [roz-er, rŏz-ər]
-This is a chiefly British slang term for a police officer, somewhat akin to the American slang pig, po-po. Origins of the British word are very fuzzy. The earliest citation is from 1893, found in P. H. Emerson's Signor Lippo - Burnt Cork Artiste: "If the rozzers was to see him in bona clobber they'd take him for a gun." The Oxford English Dictionary officially states the etymology of rozzers as uncertain, but there is speculation that it may have come from early Polari slang which was a gay slang language in Britain. The only evidence for this is the use of the word bona in the quote, which is another Polari slang word meaning 'good.' If this is indeed the case, then rozzers would have to have been a very early Polari term that became mainstreamed before it could be recorded as such.