A less than romantic getaway

A news release from the Media Relations Office of the Anne Arundel County Police Department comes bearing this headline:


Your initial reaction may be to wonder whether Kim Kardashian has already got herself entangled in some fresh escapade, but the text, when it gets around to saying what happened explains that “an adult male inmate …walked away from a work detail.”

Now perhaps you are even more puzzled, since elope means to run away with a lover to get married. Merriam-Webster gives the meaning "to slip away," and the not particularly reliable Urban Dictionary gives an alternative meaning of escape for elope, with an example from mental hospitals. And a Canadian police site confusingly uses elopee merely to mean “missing person.” Usage appears not to have gelled.

I assume that the police like elopee as a milder version of escapee, a prisoner wandering off from a work detail being less alarming to the public than a hopped-up thug scaling the wall at the Big House as sirens wail and searchlights play over the Yard. And I have no authority to deny them their linguistic innovations.

But I do hope that police reporters, who are susceptible to cop jargon, will keep a safe distance from this one.



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