Cooping
Posted: 14 October 2013 07:36 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Hello everyone,

I came across the word cooping this morning, the old U.S. police slang term for sleeping on the job, and I’m having a hard time finding out where the expression comes from—whether it draws back to actual hen coops, or to the practice of “cooping” in the sense of forcing people to vote, or to anything else ...

Does anyone know ?
Any help would be highly welcome.

Thanks,
GT

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Posted: 14 October 2013 07:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Are you familiar with this book and NPR broadcast? I can’t guarantee it but it seems like there was a discussion about the practice, though maybe not the word origin.

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Posted: 15 October 2013 01:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Oh interesting indeed ! But no, nothing on the origins ...

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Posted: 15 October 2013 03:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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It’s not so old. Both Green’s Dictionary of Slang and HDAS have citations as late as the early 1990s.

It’s not simply sleeping on the job, but finding an out of the way place where a cop could rest undisturbed. The first citation in Green’s:

1933 (con. 1900s) C.W. Willemse Cop Remembers 137: I’m not telling this to prove the merits of ‘cooping,’ but it has its good as well as its bad aspects. […] under the two platoon system it was almost impossible in a busy precinct to get a moment’s relaxation while on reserve. The Station Houses were noisy, filthy, vermin-ridden and foul and a clean bed somewhere on post was preferable to a bed behind the green lights.

Coop has also been used as a noun to mean a place where a policeman could hide and rest since at least 1931.

It’s ultimately from the noun meaning a pen for poultry, but it comes into police lingo by a longer route. Coop has been underworld slang for a prison or jail since the late-eighteenth century. The verb also meant to hide from police or other criminals, from at least 1877. From there it jumped to police with a slight change in meaning.

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Posted: 15 October 2013 06:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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This sense of coop, vb.1 is relevant, dating back to the 16th century.

2.

a. transf. To confine (persons) within small space; to shut up within irksomely narrow limits; to cage, cabin.In the Shakespeare quots. the meaning is app. ‘To enclose for protection or defence’, in reference to one of the uses of a coop for poultry. This sense may also occur in other quotations.

1570 J. Foxe Actes & Monumentes (rev. ed.) I. 75/2 Their army..was cooped and shut in within the straightes.

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Posted: 16 October 2013 05:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Most enlightening. Thank you so much.

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Posted: 17 October 2013 07:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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to the practice of “cooping” in the sense of forcing people to vote

That’s an interesting sense of “cooping”. May I ask where it’s used? At first glance I’d have taken it to be a typo for “coopting”.

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Posted: 17 October 2013 09:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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I’d never heard of it, but it’s in the OED; it seems to have been a 19th century American practice.  It’s defined only by quotations, of which the first and most illuminating is:

1848–60 J. R. Bartlett Dict. Americanisms, Cooping of Voters, collecting and confining them, several days previous to an election, in a house or on a vessel hired for the purpose. Here they are treated with good living and liquors, and at a proper day are taken to the polls, and voted, as it is called, for the party.

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Posted: 17 October 2013 12:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Thanks, Doc. Democracy’s finest hour.

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Posted: 17 October 2013 12:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Dr. Techie - 17 October 2013 09:00 AM

I’d never heard of it, but it’s in the OED; it seems to have been a 19th century American practice.  It’s defined only by quotations, of which the first and most illuminating is:


1848–60 J. R. Bartlett Dict. Americanisms, Cooping of Voters, collecting and confining them, several days previous to an election, in a house or on a vessel hired for the purpose. Here they are treated with good living and liquors, and at a proper day are taken to the polls, and voted, as it is called, for the party.

I never heard it called that, but in Chicago, in its finest hour, the Democratic “machine” used to take elderly folks from nursing homes by bus to the polls. And then they handed each person a $5 bill as they got off the bus to vote.

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Posted: 17 October 2013 01:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Rides to the polls are still a common get-out-the-vote practice. When I volunteered as a phone bank worker for the Obama campaign in 2008, one of our functions was to call likely Democratic voters, remind them of the election, make sure they knew where their polling place was, and to arrange for a ride if they had no way to get there. That’s what GOTV campaigns do. When pundits say a candidate has a good “ground game,” this is what they’re talking about.

And my understanding is that in urban districts, distributing “walking around” money is still a common practice too. It’s not paying people to vote, per se, but for campaign workers to cover last-minute expenses, like paying someone’s bus fare to the polls. But I’m sure a good proportion winds up in someone’s pocket.

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Posted: 17 October 2013 01:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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My native Chicagoan friends told me that a bottle of whiskey was the traditional gratuity, but possibly for the nursing-home set this was considered too much of a health risk.

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