Atlantic Cities

The Most Popular Entries in a New 'Cop Slang' App Are Predictably Filthy

The Most Popular Entries in a New 'Cop Slang' App Are Predictably Filthy
copslang.com

The most popular term in Police Magazine’s "Cop Slang" dictionary, which was released as an iPhone app late last month, is not unique to the law enforcement profession. "Turd cutter”—the most voted-on, and therefore, popular phrase in the Cop Slang app—is preceded by an entry on Urban Dictionary (which claims that the phrase is "Real popular in Maine"). It's also the name of a band and apparently a drink. It is slang for "a woman's behind." 

Not all the definitions on Cop Slang are vulgar, although a lot of them are. “Law enforcement, like any other profession, has a language all its own,” Police Magazine editor David Griffith writes in his introduction of the Cop Slang app, which is itself based on a web-only dictionary the magazine launched in 2012. “There are the 10 Codes, which tend to be consistent from agency to agency,” Griffith adds. “And then there is the real language of law enforcement, the inside jokes, funny sayings, vulgar comments, and gallows humor that is common among men and women who wear a badge.” (The presence of said vulgar comments and gallows humor is why the the Apple App Store asks you to verify your age before purchasing.) 

"You're dealing with a very young population under a lot of pressure," Griffith says during a phone interview. "Young officers are going to find a humorous way to deal with the stuff that happens to them." 

Scroll past the most popular section, and you'll find words and phrases unique to cops and other first responders; phrases like "Fire monkey," "hose beater," and "hydrant humper," which are cop slang for firefighter. "AAA With a Gun" is the Highway Patrol. "DRT" means "dead right there," as in, preceding DOA, or dead on arrival. A "beat wife," meanwhile, is a girlfriend you keep while working the beat. A "leather shampoo" is an "old school term for a leather sap strike to the head or shoulder." 

While the Cop Slang app suggests that every definition is contributed by someone in the law enforcement community, Griffith doesn't believe that's true. "It's user-generated content," he says. "We have no way of knowing if it's wannabes. We don't know if it's something somebody saw on TV or in a movie last week." Several times a month, Griffith, who's worked at Police Magazine since 2001, and another editor screen the dictionary for entries that are racist or otherwise too incendiary. 

While he doesn't know if every entry is genuine, or even how often the phrases are used, Griffith advises against non-cops deploying them during, say, traffic stops. TV writers and novelists looking to craft a genuine cop character, however, are welcome to spelunk away, though "they definitely have a tendency to overdo it." 

Keywords: Apps, Police, Language

Mike Riggs is a former staff writer at The Atlantic Cities. All posts »

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