Why Are Police Vans Called “Paddy Wagons” and Where Did the Term Paddywagon Come From?

A paddy wagon sounds like a logical reference to the great number of Irish policemen in uniform during the late nineteenth century, but not so.

“Paddy” is a slur against the common Irish name Patrick because the Irish were considered the lowest in the social order.

Whenever it was politically expedient to appear to crack down on crime, all of the Paddies were profiled and rounded up in police wagons.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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