The word ACAB seems to have taken the Internet by storm. It was Urban Dictionary's top trending definition on June 2, Google searches for it have been exponentially increasing since the George Floyd protests began, and as I'm writing this, there's an average of roughly five tweets every minute tagged #ACAB. The acronym stands for "all cops are bastards", and it emerged in English prisons in the 1970s. Inmates would scratch it on walls or get it tattooed across their knuckles, and the term soon became popular on the outside through punk bands and its use in riots. ACAB got so bad that several European countries made the term illegal, so some people took to stylizing it as 1312, corresponding to the letters' places in the alphabet. Recently, I've noticed a lot more people using it with lowercase letters, sometimes as an adjective (e.g. "John is a pretty acab person") or a noun ("John supports acab"). It'll be interesting to see how it linguistically develops further.
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a rising junior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.