c.1530, at first essentially the same word as policy
(1); from M.Fr. police
(1477), from L. politia
"civil administration," from Gk. polis
"city" (see policy
(1)). Still used in Eng. for "civil administration" until mid-19c.; application to "administration of public order" (1716) is from Fr., and originally referred to France or other foreign nations. The first force so-named in Eng. was the Marine Police, set up 1798 to protect merchandise at the Port of London. The verb "to keep order by means of police" is from 1841; policeman
is from 1829. Police state
"state regulated by means of national police" first recorded 1865, with ref. to Austria.