- a detective.
- a police officer.
Origin of shamus
Examples from the Web for shamus
When I was 10 or 11 years old, a movie company came to town to do this Burt Reynolds movie, Shamus.How ‘Transcendence’ Director Wally Pfister Became Christopher Nolan’s Secret Weapon
April 17, 2014
Shamus Award–winning author Peter Spiegelman returns with this psychologically thrilling novel.This Week’s Hot Reads
July 27, 2010
And he asked Shamus, but he pretended he was ill—Oh, he was very unwell!Angling Sketches
The recitation of "Shamus O'Brien" seemed tame by comparison.A Pirate of Parts
"You do not badly for a beginner," said he when Shamus had finished.
Then Shamus began to walk slowly away, and the Queen followed.
Shamus told her the story of his wanderings and produced the goblet.
- US slang a police or private detective
Word Origin and History for shamus
"police officer, detective," 1920, apparently first in "The Shamus," a detective story published that year by Harry J. Loose (1880-1943), a Chicago police detective and crime writer; the book was marketed as "a true tale of thiefdom and an expose of the real system in crime." The word is said to be probably from Yiddish shames, literally "sexton of a synagogue" ("a potent personage only next in influence to the President" [Israel Zangwill]), from Hebrew shamash "servant;" influenced by Celtic Seamus "James," as a typical name for an Irish cop.