What not To Call Cops When Abroad

Cop, copper, five-oh, Bobby, pigs, cheese. The law enforcers of the English speaking world go under many names. In fact, this is the case for most other countries in the world as well. If you are on the search for slang words in other languages, police and policeman are probably good words to start with.

People seem to love to come up with alternative terms for these. Of course one can only speculate about the reasons for this. Maybe it’s because people have respect for the police and are even a bit scared of them. As in many cases what you are scared of you tend to parody or ridicule to make it less frightening. Of course many slang words have their origin in criminal circles that through these terms express anger or use them as code words. It also seems common to refer to the colour of the uniforms or different animals. Dogs, pigs and chickens seem to be especially common.

But enough of my talk. You can see for yourself instead. I decided to put together a short list of slang words for police and policemen in different languages. I only picked one word from each language. You can see the entire list that I used here. Whether it’s possible to find connections between each country’s slang words and its relationship to its police force I leave unsaid but please feel free to make your own interpretations. And remember that it’s probably not a good idea to use any of these words when abroad. At least not when a policeman is nearby!

Greece: Batsi (slap or punch)

Turkey: Asfalt Kovboyu (asphalt cowboy)

Germany: Bulle (bull)

Czech Republic: Chlupatí (a person with a lot of body hair)

Hungary: Fakabát (wooden coat, refers to the guard boots located on street corners)

USA: Pig

UK (Liverpool): bizzies (always busy to find things to interfere with)

Jamaica: Babylon (colloquial for establishment)

Australia: Blue Heelers (a dog breed)

Argentina, Uruguay: boton (button. The police officers in these countries traditionally have large buttons on their uniforms.)

Mozambique: Cinzentinhos (little grays, refers to the colour of their uniforms)

Netherlands: Chickens

Italy: Sbirro (roach. Very vulgar and mostly used by criminals).

Scotland: Cocos (Rhyming slang that refers to the cereal characters Coco Pops which sounds like cops)

Finland: Kyttä (someone who snoops or oggles)

Spain: La Joda (don’t mess with me!)

Russia: Legawye (gun dog)

India: Mama (Uncle. Used in a sarcastic way)

Singapore: Mata (eye)

France: Poulet (chicken)

Norway: Purk (sow)

Portugal: Ratazanas (rats)


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