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sbirro

n.

Italian policeman, 1660s, from Italian, "police officer" (plural sbirri), from Late Latin birrus "red," from Greek pyrros "red," literally "fire-colored," from pyr "fire" (see fire (n.)). With unoriginal prefix (cf. Spanish esbirro). Probably so called from the original color of the uniform.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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