ACAB Meaning: How Do You Define The Acronym “ACAB”?

The acronym “ACAB” is used by some as a means to bring attention to the behavior of a group of people. If you have come here after hearing or seeing this term used for the first time because you were wondering what it means, then you have come to the right place. Here you will find the meaning of this term, the details of its origin, and some other meanings if there are any. Example conversations are also provided for you to read and understand how the term is used properly in context and to help you further understand its meaning. Finally, you will see some like terms that can be used to replace this acronym and the phrase it represents because these alternative terms mean the same thing or something similar.

Key Takeaways

  • ACAB is an acronym for “All Cops Are Bastards” and conveys anti-police sentiment.
  • The term has its roots in the UK’s prison system during the 1970s and has since spread to various forms of public expression.
  • ACAB is frequently found in conversations, social media posts, and protest actions, signaling opposition to police authority.

ACAB Meaning

What Does ACAB Mean?

ACAB is a popular acronym which stands for “All Cops Are Bastards.” The phrase has been widely used as a political slogan associated with dissidents who oppose the police. It is often spotted in graffiti, tattoos, and other forms of public expression as a means to criticize law enforcement. Along with the phrase “All Cops Are Bastards,” variations like “All Coppers Are Bastards” can be found. The term “copper” is a slang term for a police officer in some regions. It is popularly used in tattooing, graffiti, and other social media imagery as well.

An alternate representation of ACAB is the numerical code 1312, which is derived from the alphabetical position of each letter (A being the first letter, C being the third, etc.). This code functions as a more discreet way of communicating the same sentiment.

The phrase has been widely used as a slogan in protests and demonstrations, where participants express their dissatisfaction with the actions of law enforcement. It is important to note that while the slogan itself is quite strong and may appear offensive, it is often intended to emphasize the systemic issues within the police force, rather than singling out individual officers.

While many find the ACAB slogan provocative and divisive, it also has the potential to inspire deeper conversations about the complex relationship between citizens, the police, and the need for reform within law enforcement institutions. Regardless of personal opinions on the phrase itself, ACAB and 1312 continue to serve as symbols of discontent and a rallying cry for change.

Origin of ACAB

The term ACAB, standing for “All Coppers Are Bastards,” has its roots in England during the first half of the 20th century. The phrase first appeared in the 1920s and was later abbreviated to ACAB by workers on strike in the 1940s. The acronym has been historically associated with criminals in the United Kingdom, and its usage has evolved over time.

In the context of the punk and skinhead subcultures, ACAB became a popular slogan during the 1970s and 1980s. The phrase was embraced by various anarchist and anti-authoritarian groups, who saw it as a declaration against police corruption and abuses of power. Skinhead culture, with its working-class origins, often adopted ACAB as an expression of resentment toward law enforcement.

In the music scene, the term gained further prominence through Oi! bands, a subgenre of punk that often dealt with themes of rebellion, social inequality, and political unrest. Bands like 4-Skins from the United Kingdom featured the song “A.C.A.B.” in their discography, further popularizing the term.

In Germany, the use of ACAB can be traced back at least to the early 1980s, when it was embraced by leftist and anarchist groups as well as football hooligans. In response to the growing popularity of the term, the German government made it illegal to use the acronym in certain contexts, and it has become subject to police surveillance and arrests in some cases.

As for the linguistic aspect, the phrase “All Cops Are Bastards” along with its acronym ACAB, can be found in the Concise New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English, a testament to its wide usage and historical significance.

Throughout the decades, ACAB has persisted as a potent symbol of resistance against perceived police misconduct and abuse of power. With the resurgence of social movements such as Black Lives Matter, this controversial term continues to command attention and spark debate among activists, law enforcement, and the public alike.

Other Meanings

Like most acronyms, this one can represent many other phrases as well that are random or relate to specific situations. Some of the other things that this term can represent are “Always Carry A Bible, “All Cats Are Beautiful, “All Communists Are Bastards, “All Colors Are Beautiful,” and “Air Cavalry Attack Brigade.” This is just a small handful of examples as there are too many possibilities to mention them all here.

ACAB Examples

Examples of ACAB in Conversations, and Social Post

The ACAB acronym, which stands for “All Cops Are Bastards,” has been used in various contexts over the years, especially during times of heightened awareness and protests against police brutality.

One notable instance was during the George Floyd protests in 2020. People took to social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok to express their frustration over police violence and the unjust treatment of Black people. They used the acronym as a way to condemn racist actions by police officers and demand reform. For example, people might have shared the hashtag “#ACAB” alongside posts about their own experiences with law enforcement, stories about police brutality, or calls to action like “Defund the Police.”

Graffiti featuring the acronym has also appeared on public spaces during protests in different parts of the world, such as the United Kingdom, Spain, and Indonesia. In some cases, the term is used not only to criticize the police but also to show solidarity with victims of racism and police violence.

In conversations, ACAB might be used to spark discussions about the deeply ingrained problems within the police culture and the criminal justice system. For example, someone might share a story about a painful encounter with a cop and end with, “ACAB – we need police reform now!” Others might discuss the controversial role of the police and their position within an unjust system.

The term has also been associated with various anti-authoritarian and anti-racist movements globally, such as punks, ultras, and worker strikes. Celebrities and well-known figures have sometimes been seen wearing ACAB merchandise, which further brought the term into the public eye.

It is worth noting that the Anti-Defamation League considers ACAB a potential hate symbol due to its association with prison gangs and right-wing skinheads. While some see the acronym as a powerful expression of pain, anger, and the desire for change, others may view it as offensive or overly aggressive.

Regardless of personal opinions, the significance of ACAB in conversations and social media posts cannot be denied. The term continues to feature prominently in discussions on police reform, racism, and calls for a more equitable society.

Conversation Examples

A conversation between two friends via text message.

  • Friend 1: Someone painted ACAB on one of the stalls in the girl’s bathroom in the downstairs hallway at school.
  • Friend 2: Seriously? I get that some cops are bad, but not all of them. Did you tell someone at school?
  • Friend 1: I told Mr. Williams about it. He is looking into it but there is not much they can do. They aren’t going to be able to identify who did it because there are no cameras in the bathrooms.

An online discussion between two Instagram users.

  • User 1: (posts a picture) This is spray-painted under the bridge downtown. Does anyone know what it means?
  • User 2: Yeah, its ACAB. It means all cops are bastards.
  • User 1: Oh, wow! I can’t believe someone would write that!
  • User 2: Why not? Have you not seen the way they behave? Some of them are so unethical!
  • User 1: Exactly! SOME of them are, not ALL of them!

Synonyms of ACAB

The acronym is also known to be represented by the numbers 1312. The numbers related directly to the appearance of the letter in the alphabet to mean the same thing as the original acronym. Other than this, there are no other synonyms for this term.

ACAB Meaning

ACAB Meaning: How Do You Define The Useful Acronym "ACAB"?Pin

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the origin of the acronym ACAB?

ACAB stands for “All Cops Are Bastards” and has its origins in the United Kingdom in the 1940s. It became popular among strikers, protesters, and prison inmates as a symbol of defiance and frustration with law enforcement agencies and their treatment of citizens.

How is ACAB related to the number 1312?

The number 1312 is a numerical representation of the acronym ACAB, where each digit corresponds to the position of the letter in the alphabet. For example, A is the 1st letter, C is the 3rd letter, and B is the 2nd letter, giving us the combination 1312.

What is the connection between ACAB and Hells Angels?

While there isn’t a direct connection between the Hells Angels motorcycle club and the ACAB phrase, both share a history of being associated with anti-establishment and defiance against authority. The Hells Angels have been known to clash with law enforcement, and some members have been seen wearing “support 81” (8 for H and 1 for A) gear, which is a parallel to people showing support for ACAB.

What does an ACAB tattoo symbolize?

An ACAB tattoo generally symbolizes an individual’s opposition to law enforcement and their belief in the systemic issues within police institutions. Those who have an ACAB tattoo are typically making a strong statement about their feelings regarding the police force and their role in society.

How do people show support for ACAB through clothing?

People show support for ACAB through various clothing items such as T-shirts, hoodies, and hats, often featuring the acronym or number 1312 prominently. These items are worn as a visual form of protest and solidarity with the movement against police brutality and systemic racism in law enforcement.

What is the meaning of ACAB in the context of Pride?

In the context of Pride, ACAB represents the frustration and anger that some members of the LGBT+ community feel towards law enforcement agencies due to their historical mistreatment and ongoing issues with underrepresentation and over-policing. It signifies a call for change and justice and is often visible on signs, banners, and clothing during Pride events.

Last Updated on June 21, 2023

6 thoughts on “ACAB Meaning: How Do You Define The Acronym “ACAB”?”

  1. Thanks for elaborating on the street meaning of ACAB. Here is my take:

    A very few humans are bastards even when you don’t give them a reason to be. If those are also cops, they will mistreat people under the color of law. But in reality they seem rare. In my case, even when I have pulled a b***r that requires interaction with the Police, not being a b*****d to THEM in those situation has worked wonders. At worst, I have received a slap on the wrist later by a court magistrate. At best I get a talking to by someone who understands my immediate contrition.

    Contrition. I know I am supposed to behave a certain way. A way that brings minimum harm or disturbance to others. Behave. See, that is what Polite Society is based on. The lack of the need to have constant warfare over everything. If we behave well, then we don’t have a general need to interact with police.

    Here is my script for people of all colors to get along with the Police, even when they have done something wrong. ” I am sorry we are meeting under these circumstances. While I can’t admit to ANYTHING, I will cooperate with you so that you can do your job the way that you think you need to. We will work the rest out in court. Thanks for being out here, even if we are at odds in this moment.” DONE. Chances are that the handcuffs come off if it was some minor stupidity. Or a smooth move in traffic. And if it is more serious, at least you don’t get compounded charges added to your woes like resisting arrest and assaulting an officer.

    Without the Police, you would be at war with everyone all of the time. Be grateful. Say thanks. Let the Police feel like the Heroes than can actually be (sometimes).

    Not being a b*****d to someone else works like Magic. 😀

  2. Bullies are attracted to authoritarian jobs so it should be NO surprise there are sooooo many bully cops. I understand there are some good cops, but they certainly are much too often turning their eyes by not doing anything to drive bad cops out of the profession. This is why I say ALL COPS ARE BASTARDS. Bullies and cowards, f**k’em all.


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