The Meaning of 187: What It Is and How To Use It

This guide will give you all of the knowledge you need on the phrase 187, including its meaning, usage, origin, sentence examples, and more!

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What does 187 mean?

According to Cyber Definitions, the number 187, which in this case is pronounced one eighty-seven or one-eight-seven, is an acronym that is synonymous with the crime of murder. This comes from the California Penal Code Section 187, which details and defines what murder is in the eyes of the law. 

Additionally, the abbreviation 187 was the alternate title to the song “Deep Cover.” “Deep Cover” is a single that was released by Dr. Dre in 1992; it features Snoop Dogg. The song was recorded for the movie Deep Cover’s soundtrack. The film stars Jeff Goldblum and Laurence Fishburne, and followed undercover cops in Los Angeles.

187 is also the title of a 1997 film One-Eight-Seven starring Samuel L. Jackson, and 187 Strassenbande is a German hip-hop collective based out of Hamburg.

In numerology, the number 187 is associated with introspection, and determining future goals, according to Affinity Numerology. It brings about an analytical, independent, intuitive energy. 

Where did the term 187 come from?

The slang term 187, meaning murder, comes from Section 187 of the United Sttes California Penal Code. This section reads as follows, according to California Legislative Information:

187.  (a) Murder is the unlawful killing of a human being, or a fetus, with malice aforethought.

(b) This section shall not apply to any person who commits an act that results in the death of a fetus if any of the following apply:

(1) The act complied with the Therapeutic Abortion Act, Article 2 (commencing with Section 123400) of Chapter 2 of Part 2 of Division 106 of the Health and Safety Code.

(2) The act was committed by a holder of a physician’s and surgeon’s certificate, as defined in the Business and Professions Code, in a case where, to a medical certainty, the result of childbirth would be death of the mother of the fetus or where her death from childbirth, although not medically certain, would be substantially certain or more likely than not.

(3) The act was solicited, aided, abetted, or consented to by the mother of the fetus.

(c) Subdivision (b) shall not be construed to prohibit the prosecution of any person under any other provision of law.

While this complex legal jargon may be difficult to understand, in short, it defines murder as unlawful, intentional killing of a human being or fetus. This subsection of the police code is where the term 187 originates.

Where is the term 187 commonly seen?

187 is most commonly seen in police jargon, but is also worn as a badge of pride for some criminals. Cyber Definitions states that some gang members will get the number 187 tattooed on themselves to boast that they have been involved in a murder.

This is similar to the famous teardrop under the eye tattoo. In some places, according to Corrections, this can mean a lengthy prison sentence. In other locations, it denotes that the person with the tattoo has committed murder. If the tear is just an outline, that can mean attempted murder or that one of their friends was mrudered and they are out for revenge.

There are many tattoos that hold significance for different gangs and criminals, and people should be wary to research their design before getting it tattooed, as not to accidentally advertise that they belong to a certain gang or criminal mindset. 

Refinery 29 states that spiderweb tattoos can be associated with lengthy prison sentences, five-point crowns can be associated with the Latin Kings gang based out of Chicago, clusters of dots are associated with gang life and prison sentences, and the number 666 with a Shamrock, along with numbers 888 and 14 are associated with white supremacy. People should carefully research their intended tattoo designs before committing to it to ensure they are not sending the wrong message.

What are synonyms for the term 187?

There are many synonyms for the term 187, according to Thesaurus

  • Assassination
  • Murder
  • Bloodshed
  • Homicide
  • Manslaughter
  • Massacre
  • Slaying
  • Annihilation
  • Hit
  • Offing
  • Felony
  • Beheading
  • Slaughtering
  • Defeat
  • Finishing
  • Eradication
  • Snuff
  • Take a life

How can 187 be used in a sentence?

Most often, the term 187 will be used by police officers or other law enforcement officials, but can also simply be used as a shorthand when referring to murder. It can even be used in videogames in a joking way. In this example, Sharon arrives late to dinner with her husband Eli, and seems frazzled.

Eli: Honey, what happened? Are you alright?

Sharon: Sorry I’m late. I was driving downtown and suddenly traffic just stopped. Police said there’d been a 187.

Eli: Oh my goodness.

Here, Sharon uses the term 187 to be discreet about mentioning a murder in polite company. In the next example, one officer makes an announcement to the rest of the precinct over the police scanner.

Officer: I’ve got a 187 at 8th and Vine. Need backup, over.

Here, the officer uses the term 187 as shorthand for a muder, and requests backup to the scene. This way, the rest of the law enforcement officials will know what they are in for when they arrive as backup.

Overall, the term 187 means “murder.” This comes from Section 187 of the California Penal Code, and is used by law enforcement and criminals alike to refer to the crime of murder. This can be said across police officer’s broadcasts, or even tattooed on murderers as a badge of honor.