4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Rozzers — a slang term for police

Image by Rick Geary

Hey Matt:

My English friend was riding in my car recently when I was pulled over by the police. I had not noticed them, but Nigel did and exclaimed, “Cripes, the rozzers are after us!” I didn’t realize that “rozzer” meant police, so I drove another 1/4 mile before the blue & red lights helped me put 2+2 together. So, can you explain how something that sounds like an exotic fruit translates to a police officer?

— Jay

You might be surprised to learn that this slang term for the police goes back to at least the late 19th Century. The most accepted explanation is that it’s a punny play on the name of Sir Robert Peel, founder of London’s Metropolitan Police. Similar UK slang terms such as “bobbies” and “peelers” are more direct vamps on his name. To American ears, “rozzer” for “Robert” sounds like an awfully long stretch. But, it’s always good to remember that British people came up with “Jez” as a nickname for “Jeremy,” so there’s some precedent for inserting random z’s into people’s names.

Even with the connection to Peel, the origin of “rozzer” isn’t 100 percent certain. Some people have pointed out that it might be tied to “roosher,” which is another popular slang term from the 19th Century, but that doesn’t really help because the roots of “roosher” are even more obscure. Either way, “rozzer” isn’t the most popular name for the cops in England these days. You’re more likely to hear them called “the feds” or “the filth.”

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Dead bodies pile up at Tijuana's Semefo

More than 270 corpses moved to Juarez neighborhood start to smell
Next Article

Superficial pursuit of a sociopathic narcissist

As I Lay Dying, Trishes, Cultgabe, Bloodstone the Street Preacher, Ashes of Fate
Image by Rick Geary

Hey Matt:

My English friend was riding in my car recently when I was pulled over by the police. I had not noticed them, but Nigel did and exclaimed, “Cripes, the rozzers are after us!” I didn’t realize that “rozzer” meant police, so I drove another 1/4 mile before the blue & red lights helped me put 2+2 together. So, can you explain how something that sounds like an exotic fruit translates to a police officer?

— Jay

You might be surprised to learn that this slang term for the police goes back to at least the late 19th Century. The most accepted explanation is that it’s a punny play on the name of Sir Robert Peel, founder of London’s Metropolitan Police. Similar UK slang terms such as “bobbies” and “peelers” are more direct vamps on his name. To American ears, “rozzer” for “Robert” sounds like an awfully long stretch. But, it’s always good to remember that British people came up with “Jez” as a nickname for “Jeremy,” so there’s some precedent for inserting random z’s into people’s names.

Even with the connection to Peel, the origin of “rozzer” isn’t 100 percent certain. Some people have pointed out that it might be tied to “roosher,” which is another popular slang term from the 19th Century, but that doesn’t really help because the roots of “roosher” are even more obscure. Either way, “rozzer” isn’t the most popular name for the cops in England these days. You’re more likely to hear them called “the feds” or “the filth.”

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

RV fires in Mission Bay, Rancho San Diego, Chula Vista

Older refrigerators rank high as culprits
Next Article

Sun will rise from a point on the horizon due east

Fall officially begins
Comments
2

You will never hear the police referred to as the feds in the UK. More likely 'Old Bill' or 'The Filth' in and around London. Po-liss in Scotland. Pigs, anywhere.

May 23, 2018

domscott, you obviously haven't spent much time around young people in the UK since at least the late 90s! Teens and young adults I was around frequently (and laughably in my opinion) referred to the police as 'the Feds' back than and certainly in the first decade of the 2000s. It's either faded from use now or I just spend less time around young people. Last I remember, the kids on the street had started using 'Popo' for police. Both terms nicked from the US as I understand it, kids here are heavily influenced by US slang terms, it's been this way for a looong time. US slang always seems to be seen as cool by the kids and is quickly adopted, especially now that terms are spread so quickly via social media.

March 4, 2019

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Drinks All Around — Bartenders' drink recipes Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Outdoors — Weekly changes in flora and fauna Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Street Style — San Diego streets have style Surf Diego — Real stories from those braving the waves Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close