a poor 'beat' cop

Discussion in 'English Only' started by sunrise13, Mar 29, 2011.

  1. sunrise13 Member

    Can you tell me what the word " beat " means in the following sentence: " he was just a poor beat cop trying to stay alive ."
    thanks for your help.
  2. quillerbee Senior Member

    Canadian English
    Hi sunrise, in the WR dictionary: beat = an area allocated to a police officer and patrolled on foot.

    A beat cop walks around the neighbourhood all day. Not the most glamorous position on the force.
  3. sunrise13 Member

    thanks quillerbee . so it doesn't mean "exhausted" in this sentence
  4. Packard

    Packard Senior Member

    USA, English
    My father told me that "beat" cops walked the "beat" with a "billy stick" (which we now call a baton). The billy stick was attached to a leather thong and it allowed the cop to twirl the stick. The cops all apparently picked up a rhythm while doing this and it was called the "beat" (as in music).

    I don't know if this is true or just my dad spinning a yarn. It sounds reasonable. I think I'll check on the Internet and see if it is true.

    I found this on-line. Just a little more believable than Dad's explanation.

    The word "beat" has several meanings. One of these is "to make a path by repeated treading". This is still commonly used in the term "beat a path". (Definition #8 in the link below)
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2011
  5. quillerbee Senior Member

    Canadian English
    Packard, I think your dad was telling a tall one.

    A beat is a path you cover over and over again. It started with cops walking the beat, but now you can also talk about reporters covering the sports beat.
  6. Packard

    Packard Senior Member

    USA, English
    Just like Dad. To embarrass me after all these years.:)
  7. Fabulist Banned

    Annandale, Virginia, USA
    American English
    No, it doesn't. "Beat" is used in other circumstances to mean a small geographic area. In some southern U.S. states, a "beat" is a subdivision of a county. A police officer's "beat" is the area he or she is responsible for patrolling, defined in terms of city blocks or the area bounded by several streets.

    "Beat" as an adjective does mean "exhausted," but here "beat" in "beat cop" is a noun being used as an attributive, to designate a "cop" (police officer) who is assigned to a specific "beat."

    Not all police officers are "beat cops." Detectives who don't wear uniforms are usually assigned to a squad or "detail" that investigates a certain class of crimes, such as murder, robbery or "vice." A uniformed officer could be assigned to a special "detail" too, such as guarding the mayor or police chief, or to administrative duties in a police station.
  8. frenchifried Senior Member

    English - UK/US
    I was trying to answer the original question not give a general meaning for the word beat. Particularly when there are so many worldwide variants of the word.

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