police

police
\ \ [16] Etymologically, the police are in charge of the administration of a ‘city’. In fact, police is essentially the same word as policyplan of action’. Both go back to Latin polītīacivil administration’, a descendant of Greek póliscity’. In medieval Latin a variant polītia emerged, which became French police. English took it over, and at first continued to use it for ‘civil administration’ (Edmund Burke as late as 1791 described the Turks as ‘a barbarous nation, with a barbarous neglect of police, fatal to the human race’). Its specific application to the administration of public order emerged in France in the early 18th century, and the first body of public-order officers to be named police in England was the Marine Police, a force set up around 1798 to protect merchandise in the Port of London.
\ \ Cf.POLITICS

Word origins - 2ed. . 2005.

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