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

Do you know the definition of ACAB? This guide will give you all of the information you need on ACAB’s meaning and how to use it in a sentence.

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The acronym ACAB has become more popular in recent years, due in part to the increased media coverage of racially motivated police violence and calls to defund the police force. If you’ve heard this initialism used but you’re not sure what it means, read on to learn more!

What Does ACAB Stand For?

According to Anti Defamation League, the abbreviation ACAB most often stands for “All Cops Are B*stards.” This acronym has been used in anarchist and anti-authoritarian movements around the world. 

This is frequently seen as a tattoo and has been a slogan for both racist skinhead and non-racist skinhead culture for a long time. Therefore, careful judgment should be made when seeing this symbol as a tattoo. Some people even have it as a knuckle tattoo.

Overall, many uses of the phrase do not imply that all individual cops are b*stards. However, it implies that police officers are inherently part of an oppressive system and an institution that has created institutional misjustice for many years.

There are also many songs called ACAB on various albums by various bands such as British punk band The 4-Skins. This protest phrase has been seen around the globe in public spaces, from Britain’s Churchill Statue in London, England, all across the United Kingdom, Europe, and the Americas as graffiti. You might also see it as its numeric code 1312.

How Has ACAB Gained Popularity?

Keywords and catchphrases are often used in protests as chants. These can also be used not only in physical protest but in things like graffiti or online posts. Words are very powerful, and having a specific symbol of protest that people can turn to can help associate people with different groups. 

However, due to certain racist connotations associated with the phrase ACAB, make sure that you carefully examine its usage context before assuming anything about a person.

This phrase often makes headlines in places like the New York Times in protest of police brutality such as after the murder of George Floyd, and people wear it on t-shirts in protest or use it on social media. 

ACAB is one of many slang terms used at protests. This term is used specifically in protest of police officers and brutality from the police force. This political slogan has also become a catchphrase associated with the Black Lives Matter movement. 

What Else Does ACAB Stand For?

While you can often assume ACAB stands for all cops are b*stards, according to The Free Dictionary, this acronym can stand for a few other different things. 

If you are in a situation where someone saying all cops are b*stards might not make sense, try thinking of other alternate meanings to this acronym that they might be using instead:

  • Advisory Committee on Agricultural Biotechnology (USDA)
  •  Arts & Crafts Association Bornholm (Bornholm, Denmark)
  •  Atraumatic Coronary Artery Bypass (cardiology)
  •  All Croatians Are Beautiful
  •  Acht Cola Acht Bier (German: All Cops Are B*stards)
  •  All Cats Are Beautiful
  •  Always Carry A Bible (often a tattoo)
  •  Associació contra l’Anorèxia i la Bulímia (Catalan: Association against Anorexia and Bulimia)
  •  All Coppers Are B*stards (common British tattoo)
  •  Air Cavalry Attack Brigade
  •  Association du Cheval Arabe Bedouin (French: Bedouin Arabian Horse Association; est. 2006)
  •  Associació Cultural Armènia de Barcelona (Spanish: Armenian Cultural Association of Barcelona; Barcelona, Spain)
  •  All Colors Are Beautiful
  •  Applied Composites AB (Sweden)
  •  All Communists Are B*stards (group)
  •  Alaska Contemporary Art Bank (est. 1975; Alaska State Council on the Arts; Alaska Department of Education and Early Development)
  •  Association of Community Access Broadcasters (New Zealand)
  •  Association of Cargo Agents of Bangladesh
  •  All Cops Are Beautiful

How Can the Abbreviation ACAB Be Used in a Sentence?

Aside from making flashcards or quizzes to test your memory of the definitions of different words and phrases, using words and acronyms in sentences is a great way to remember their definitions. 

Take a look at these example sentences to see how ACAB might be used in sentences in daily life!

Example 1

Person 1: Did you see the most recent news? Another Black man who was innocent was killed by police today. ACAB.

Example 2

Person 1: I was walking to work today and saw hordes of protestors with signs reading ACAB. It was astounding to see that many people banding together. 

What Is the History of the Abbreviation ACAB?

Use of the term ACAB began in the 20th century around the 1920s. This phrase started in England and was abbreviated to ACAB by the 1940s. There is even video footage of protests using this phrase as a chant as early as 1958 in England. However, this phrase became much more popular when it was used in the Daily Mirror in the 1970s. 

From there, it became associated with the punk and anarchist movements around the world. In different locations, there are different connotations associated with the term ACAB. 

The Anti-Defamation League lists it as hate speech, but also acknowledges that it has been associated with both racist and anti-racist groups. This storied history means it is a very complicated phrase. 

With the advent of social media, it was publicized even more, especially with recent protests against police brutality. This slogan can be seen all over Twitter and TikTok and can be incendiary for some groups. 

Some people use this phrase as a form of protest, while others are offended by its implications. Overall, you must make your own judgment about the usage of the phase. 


Overall, the shorthand ACAB is an acronym for All Cops Are B*stards. This phrase is associated with the anti-authoritarian and anarchist movements, as well as the punk scene. This phrase first emerged in the early to mid 20th century and has continued to retain popularity.


  1. ACAB | ADL 
  2. ACAB – What does ACAB stand for? | The Free Dictionary 
  3. What Does ‘ACAB’ Mean? |