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Top 50 Police Vocabulary You Need to Know!

October 14th, 2022 police vocabulary

Must-Know Police Vocabulary!

As part of the police officer exam, candidates are expected to have a rounded knowledge of police vocabulary. To help you along the way, we’ve put together the top 50 police vocabulary that you need to know; a must-know for the police exam.

One challenge of the police officer exam is the spelling, vocabulary, and reading comprehension. It’s challenging because there’s no “one list” of words to memorize, not one set of topics to study. It’s all a bit vague – and it depends on your critical thinking skills, too. Often, it comes down to chance. During some police practice tests you’ll score high, in others not so high. That means candidates must cast as wide a net as possible – reading, reading, and yes – reading, to learn as many words as possible, in their own contexts, and within the standard expected on the police test.

Of course, reading really is your best tool. The more you read, the more new words you learn. It’s even better if the resources you read are somehow police or law enforcement related.

This could include:

  • Newspapers – whether in print or online.
  • Police books – including by famous officers or in detective novels.
  • Police department websites – download the latest reports.

Again, it’s all about exposure. Of course, nobody expects candidates to learn the entire dictionary, but you should be able to understand many of the mid-tier level words that come up time and time again. There’s no point learning extremely rare words that won’t come up. You need to learn to differentiate between words that are common and words that you don’t need to learn. Of course, you can learn those rare words as an aside, just don’t expect them to appear on the police written exam.

Of course, this list of police words below is not intended to be exhaustive. What it does do, though, is highlight some of the key words you need to know. Remember – as part of the police officer exam, you need to be competent as both spelling and vocabulary definitions. You also need to understand words within a wider context. That is routinely tested on the police exam.

Don’t just learn what the words mean, learn how they’re spelled too!

Let’s get started.

Top 50 Police Vocabulary to Know

Word Definition Example
Corroborate To give support to a theory or finding.   “He corroborated the claim that she was in her home that night”.
Suborn To bribe someone to commit an unlawful act.   “He tried to suborn witnesses to speak in his favor”.
Sequester To isolate.   “The police officer sequestered the suspect in the local park”.
Libel To publish a false statement that damages an individual’s reputation.   “The newspaper committed libel by falsely claiming he evaded tax for the past decade”.  
Adjourn To postpone, often referring to court. “The trial was adjourned to a later date”.
Bail Release of an accused person awaiting trial, often after the payment of a fee.   “He was granted bail at a cost of $4,000 and released and was due back in court on 14 September”.
Impeach To charge the holder of public office with misconduct.   “The US president was impeached on grounds that he personally profited from his public role”.
Arraign To bring to court on a criminal charge.   “She was arraigned on charges of manslaughter”.
Admonish To firmly warn against someone’s behavior.   “She admonished him for taking drugs when he promised not to do so”.
Reprobate An unprincipled person.   “He was a reprobate; an individual who had no principles and who acted according to his selfish needs”.
Custody Imprisonment.   “He was taken into custody on charges of theft”.
Reprimand To warn sternly against.   “Mike was reprimanded for consuming too much alcohol”.
Incarceration The state of being imprisoned.   “She was incarcerated after her trial found her guilty”.
Perjury Telling a lie whilst under oath.   “He committed perjury by lying to the court about his whereabouts on the night”.
Embezzle To misappropriate, often someone’s money.   “She embezzled up to $5,000 from the company credit card against the company’s knowledge”.
Collusion Illegal cooperation between two entities.   “The US president did not commit collusion with Russia as the Mueller report exonerated his involvement”.
Exonerate To find innocent or free from wrongdoing.   “The court exonerated his reputation and found him not guilty of the crimes originally attributed to him”.
Vagrancy The state of being homeless.   “The vagrant moved from street to street each week, never having a permanent place to call home”.
Lynch To kill someone for an offence without trial (often in group form). “They lynched him, hung him up and left him to die.”
Extortion Obtaining something, such as money, through force or by threats.   “His empire was built on extortion, and not through any lawful means”.
Subdue To overcome or to bring under control.   “The officer subdued the situation and prevented it from escalating further”.
Contusion A bruise.   “The officer suffered two contusions; one to his left forearm and the second to his lower lip”.
Inquest An inquiry that takes place to establish the facts.   “The court ordered an inquest to be held to learn what happened missing government funds”
Indictment A charge or accusation of a crime.   “He was indicted on charges of murder”.
Warrant An authorization for the police to arrest someone or to act, such as search premises.   “A warrant was issued for his arrest. He was found and arrested later that day”.
Moratorium A temporary ban.   “A moratorium on drinking alcohol was sanctioned”.
Summons An order to appear in court in front of a judge.   “A summons was issued for Nathan to appear in court on the 10 August”.
Coroner An official tasked with inquiring into a suspicious death.  The coroner learned that the politician did not die by hanging but was instead killed by order of the government”.
Lien The right to keep possession of a property until a debt has been paid.  The owner could not sell his property because a lien was in place to ensure he paid the debt”.
Subpoena A writ ordering an individual to appear in court.   “Hillary Clinton was issued a subpoena to appear in court to answer questions on the missing 33,000 emails”.
Slander To make a false spoken statement about an individual’s reputation.   “He slandered Michael’s character in public by claiming that he was a pedophile”.
Litigation The act of taking legal action; to be litigious.   “The United States is a very litigious country, where litigation is almost a second currency”.
Prosecution To conduct legal proceedings against an individual. “He was prosecuted for manslaughter”.
Arson Deliberately setting fire to property.   “Sheldon committed arson when he set fire to his employer’s premises”.
Siege A military operation in which a town or city is surrounded, and essential supplies are cut off, with the intention that the town / city will surrender.   “The siege was ongoing for 3 weeks now, and they didn’t yet surrender”.
Culprit A person responsible for a crime or misdeed.   “The culprit was 6 feet tall, 300 pounds and was found by the police enjoying a meal in McDonalds”.
Manslaughter The non-intentional killing of a human being.   “The judge established that he had committed manslaughter by reacting to an explosive situation with his wife, suddenly impacting her fatally on the head”.
Murder The premeditated killing of a human being.   “He had planned this murder for several weeks now. It was a highly calculated operation and, therefore, he was issued the death penalty”.  
Delinquent A young offender.   “She was 13, a delinquent by all accounts, who regularly stole from half a dozen local stores”.
Sabotage To deliberately destroy or obstruct an event.   “The concert did not go ahead. Three individuals deliberately targeted the sabotaged the event to ensure that it would not go ahead”.
Surveillance Close observation, as in spying. “The government had extensive surveillance in place to monitor what Russia was up to”.
Abscond To leave hurriedly to avoid arrest. “He tried to abscond the country, but it was too late. He was arrested on the plane before it took off”.
Expropriation State taking property from an owner for public use / benefit. “The law allowed for the expropriation of church land for other development purposes”.
Laceration A deep cut to the skin / flesh. “After the brawl, he realised he had suffered a laceration to his left thigh”.
Larceny Theft of personal property. “Paul committed larceny, stealing over $1,000 from his business partner”.
Sedition Conduct that incites rebellion against the authority of the state. “His seditious acts were enough for the government to hand down the charge of treason”.
Forgery A fake document, bill or work intended for a criminal purpose. “The banknotes were clearly forged. He was arrested on charges of forgery”.
Barricade Improvised barrier erected to defend against opposing forces. “A barricade was set up to defend the police force against the unruly mob on the opposite side”.
Brandish To threateningly wave a dangerous object, such as a knife. “When approached, he brandished his knife and threatened all those who were in his immediate vicinity”.
Apprehend To arrest an individual for a crime. “He was apprehended for murder later that day and would appear on trial on 1 October”.

Police Vocabulary Quiz!

Take a few minutes to test your knowledge of police vocabulary with one of our latest quizzes.

Here, we’ve put together 10 questions on some of the most common law enforcement vocabulary you will come across.

Also, don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel to receive notifications of all the latest videos.

Building the Next Step Forward

Police vocabulary is an important part of your police written test.

To become the most competent law enforcement officer, you must know the lingo associated with your own profession. When reading police reports, or when dealing with attorneys or your superiors or those in court, knowing these terms and phrases is important.

It’s not enough just to know the definitions – what they mean – but also how these words are spelled. But this process takes time. Don’t expect to see much improvement in the days ahead. Instead, this is a long-term shift in your approach to vocabulary and reading comprehension.

Make learning about these subjects part of your day-to-day life and, by doing that, you’ll see remarkable results in just a few weeks time.

Found this helpful? Access your own personal dashboard and learn everything you need to know about the police written exam – including the top 350 vocabulary, spelling, math, reading comprehension, and incident report writing. With a 92% success rate, our online police course has you covered.


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