[ puh-lees ]
/ pəˈlis /
Save This Word!
See synonyms for: police / policed / polices / policing on Thesaurus.com


verb (used with object), po·liced, po·lic·ing.

to regulate, control, or keep in order by or as if by means of police.
Military. to clean and keep clean (a camp, post, etc.)



In effect, this quiz will prove whether or not you have the skills to know the difference between “affect” and “effect.”
Question 1 of 7
The rainy weather could not ________ my elated spirits on my graduation day.

Origin of police

1520–30; <Middle French: government, civil administration, police <Late Latin polītia citizenship, government, for Latin polītīa;see polity
Many English words exemplify the original stress rule of Old English and other early Germanic languages, according to which all parts of speech except unprefixed verbs were stressed on the first syllable, and prefixed verbs were stressed on the syllable immediately following the prefix. Although the scope of this rule has been greatly restricted by the incorporation into English of loanwords that exhibit other stress patterns, the rule has always remained operative to some degree, and many loanwords have been conformed to it throughout the history of English. For South Midland and Midland U.S. speakers in particular, shifting the stress in borrowed nouns from a noninitial syllable to the first syllable is still an active process, yielding [poh-lees] /ˈpoʊ lis/ for police and [dee-troit] /ˈdi trɔɪt/ for Detroit, as well as cement, cigar, guitar, insurance, umbrella, and idea said as [see-ment], /ˈsi mɛnt/, [see-gahr], /ˈsi gɑr/, [git-ahr], /ˈgɪt ɑr/, [in-shoor-uhns], /ˈɪn ʃʊər əns/, [uhm-brel-uh], /ˈʌm brɛl ə/, and [ahy-deeuh]. /ˈaɪ diə/.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

British Dictionary definitions for police

/ (pəˈliːs) /


  1. the police the organized civil force of a state, concerned with maintenance of law and order, the detection and prevention of crime, etc
  2. (as modifier)a police inquiry
(functioning as plural) the members of such a force collectively
any organized body with a similar functionsecurity police
  1. the regulation and control of a community, esp in regard to the enforcement of law, the prevention of crime, etc
  2. the department of government concerned with this

verb (tr)

C16: via French from Latin polītīa administration, government; see polity
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Essays. Emails. Everything. Get Help Now!