View Full Version : Euphamisms for crime/corruption/stolen goods/cops

Giant Baby
06-29-2008, 01:47 AM
The Google is letting me down.

My character is writing a letter to a cop's commanding officer in which she unwittingly uses or alludes to various euphamisms for corruption, dirty cops, stolen goods, etc. I'm having trouble tracking down a good list of euphamisms. If anyone has either a direction to send me in, or some euphamisms of their own (seriously, I'm stalled- I've got "fell off a truck!" Massive brain freeze goin' on) I'll take 'em. Gratefully.

Veering astray to euphamisms or lists on semi-related topics is welcome, as they may spark my brain back into "move" mode.

Soccer Mom
06-29-2008, 02:30 AM
Stolen goods are often called "a lick"
Stealing is "hitting a lick"
Criminal activity is "putting in work"

Not sure what else you're exactly looking for.

06-29-2008, 02:36 AM
In NYC, stealing is called "boosting".
Someone who's corrupt can be called "dirty."

Hope this helps.

06-29-2008, 03:29 AM
You spelled Euphemism wrong. :)

Stolen Goods: Five finger discount
Cops: Coppers

06-29-2008, 03:37 AM
Exposing someone's corruption : "throwing 'em under a bus"

Old ones:

Knowing someone's corruption : having the "dirt" on someone" a "dirty" cop

Someone confessing : "singing" as a bird in a cage?

Someone running away from imprisonment : "on the lamb"?

Smiling Ted
06-29-2008, 04:18 AM
First of all, check here (http://www.miskatonic.org/slang.html) and here (http://www.slangsearch.com/crime.html) and here (http://www.sonic.net/maledicta/mobspeak.html).

In Mexico, extortion/bribery of officials is called the mordida, or "bite." Someone's put the bite on you.

In the Middle East, bribes are baksheesh.

Someone who can make official problems go away is a "fixer."
Illegal goods are sold on the "black market." Goods that might be legal but lack documentation are sold on the "gray market."
To be paid without a legal record or taxation is to be paid "under the table."
In Russia, business done illegally is done na levo.
A man who sells illegal goods is a "fence."

What you need for an effective Google is some synonyms and stand-ins for "euphemism." Like, I don't know..."slang"?

06-29-2008, 05:01 AM
Someone running away from imprisonment : "on the lamb"?

"On the lam" actually, though it's an easy mistake to make if you've only heard it spoken.

The thing is that none of the words like "fence", "boost", "lick", "stool pigeon", etc., are euphemisms--they're not meant to disguise the reality of what's going on. Rather, they're argot, or cant, or jargon--synonyms for common words that are meant to emphasize the user's identification with a particular group. And some of these terms are just slang.

Some things to Google: "criminal slang", "underworld slang", "criminal vocabulary", "criminal argot", "criminal jargon", etc. Here's one glossary of Mafia argot (http://www.onewal.com/maf-glos.html).

06-29-2008, 05:13 AM
cops are called pigs, 5.0, po-po

06-29-2008, 06:02 PM
I suggest that you write the letter out the way you want the cops to interpret it, then work toward changing it into the innocent version.

Giant Baby
06-29-2008, 11:16 PM
This is seriously helpful. Thanks. These are all just the sorts of things I need to shoot me in the right direction.

You're all fantastic.

Kathie Freeman
06-30-2008, 08:26 PM
cops are called pigs, 5.0, po-po

I believe that's 5-0 as in "Hawaii 5-0"

06-30-2008, 08:54 PM
There are surely lots more terms than listed so far. Stolen merchandise is of course "hot" (and if resold to a legit0looking business such as a pawn shop it is "fenced goods" but that's a rather official term) and strangely enough, the police are "the heat." Then there was the Star Trek episode where they went back in time to (IIRC) the 1920's in an area taken over by organized crime in which guns were called "heaters."

Perhaps listening to some older recordings by George Carlin or Cheech and Chong might provide inspiration (in several ways, even), as in this euphemism/homonym for a slang term for illegal recreational drugs: "This sure is good shipment, man!"

A while back (slightly over a quarter century ago) a college friend aquaintance called me asking if a certain model of computer was worth buying - he kept saying it "fell off a truck," especially after I suggested call a mutual friend who worked at a local office of that computer maker. Okay, so he was a little bit, uh, criminal, and I was just a little bit naive.

I heard a judge (I was only a witness in this case) speaking of a defendant who was in jail awaiting the trial/hearing as "he's one of our guests," as if the jail were a hotel...

07-01-2008, 12:28 AM
Go watch "The Big Easy" with Dennis Quaid and Ellen Barkin. It's a movie set in New Orleans, involving corruption on the police department, wiseguys and etc. Really awesome movie, and lots of vernacular to pick up.

Soccer Mom
07-01-2008, 04:00 AM
You spelled Euphemism wrong. :)

Stolen Goods: Five finger discount
Cops: Coppers

No, no. No one calls them coppers. Not unless this is a thirties era piece. 5-0, po-po, "on the job" : those are the ones I hear most often.

Giant Baby
07-01-2008, 07:09 PM
Awesome. And I'll definitely check out The Big Easy. Thanks!