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bobby

British English

Meaning: a police officer (informal, British English)

For example:

  • Let's ask the bobby if we're allowed to park here.

  • Slow down. There's a village bobby across the road.

Note: This term is becoming outdated. Police officers in Britain may use it to refer to each other in an affectionate way.

Origin: Sir Robert Peel (1788-1850) served as the prime minister of Great Britain (1834-1835 and 1841-1846). He reformed criminal law and made 100 fewer crimes punishable by death. He also introduced education for prisoners, and created the modern police force in London. The word "bobby" (a nickname for Robert) became a common word for police officers in the UK.

Variety: This is typically used in British English but may be used in other varieties of English too.

Quick Quiz:

Where does a village bobby usually work?

a. in the local community

b. on the battlefield

c. at a museum

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Contributor: Tara Benwell