The Language of Cops and Robbers

The Language of Cops and Robbers


Cop, Crook, and Street Slang

The world of cops and robbers is an entity all its own. It’s a culture that lives and breathes in every neighborhood of every city. With each individual society comes a set of traditions, rules, regulations, and language. To survive in these various social orders, members must learn to walk the walk and talk the talk. For example, the word cop might conjure up images of a burly police officer to you, but to a criminal, cop means to take plea agreement offered by the DA (“I’m not going to take a chance with a jury trial. I’m going to cop a plea.”).

Let’s take a peek at a few of the slang terms used by cops and robbers.

Jailing (jailin”) – Wearing pants with the waistband so low that the underwear/boxer shorts are exposed. This style actually began in prisons and jails because inmates are issued ill-fitting clothing. Their jail-issued pants are often much too big causing them to ride low on the hips.

Chicken head – Someone who gives oral sex in exchange for drugs.

Shorty – a nickname for girls. “Shorty sure looked fine last night.”

Bullet – A one year prison sentence.

Ink – Tattoo

Pruno – Alcohol made in jail or prison by inmates. Also known as hooch.

Five-O – The police

Catch a ride – Share someone’s drugs. “Hey, Dude. Can I catch a ride?”

Now, what are some of your favorite slang terms?

7 replies
  1. pabrown
    pabrown says:

    Bra is a Hawaiian term. Dog the Bounty Hunter lives there. Other terms I’ve heard are shop – black and white patrol cars. Boot of course for rookie.

  2. Angie J-S
    Angie J-S says:

    Hmm…a slang term for police is ‘po-po’ here in AZ. And the 420 drug thing also refers to “it’s 4:20, time to fire up a fattie” – a popular saying with kids. There’s a whole ‘nother language in crime/prison culture. And then there are the tats with all the different meanings (teardrops for either family members killed or people killed by the tat-wearer, spider webs on certain areas to indicate prison time served, etc.). Fascinating stuff…

  3. Auntieamy71
    Auntieamy71 says:

    In response to why they call men ‘bra’ on Dog: The Bounty Hunter, they’re not talking about the ladies undergarment.

    Bra, if I remember correctly from an article I read about the show, means something along the lines of ‘bud’ or ‘buddy’ . It’s part of a language that’s a cross between Hawaiian(yes, there is such a dialect) and English, almost like Piddgin English.

  4. SZ
    SZ says:

    See now Joyce, if you were rappin’, and you choke, you just lost the fight. (the other rapper wins)

    420 is pot here in San Francisco.

    And if you have NWA albums, there’s 8 ball could be Old English 800 or coke.
    Strawberry is a white prostitute on crack. Gat for gun. Bucket for old car, or hoopti. . .

    I watched a television show called Dog Bounty Hunter. They call men “Bra”. I understood Brother and Bro. I don’t understand why we are calling men ladies under garments.

  5. Joyce Tremel
    Joyce Tremel says:

    Wow. I actually have time to check out the blog for a change because some moronic computer consultants took down the police server and now DON’T KNOW HOW TO BRING IT BACK UP!!! I have two days worth of police reports to type and I can’t.

    I’m thinking if I choke someone right now, it’d be justifiable homicide.

  6. Elena
    Elena says:

    Tumble or tumbled. I took a tumble – They tumbled me = arrested or picked up for questioning.

    Darn, that’s the only one I can think of that is permissible to transmit over public airwaves 🙂

  7. D. Swords
    D. Swords says:

    I recognize one term, Lee. That being Five-0.

    A few years ago, an officer from a jurisdiction not far from mine remarked how odd was the term “hit-skip,” which I’d always heard used in referring to a hit and run accident. Many of these terms are regional – even from town to town.

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