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verb [transitive] British informal

to steal something, especially a car

twocker also twoccer or twocer

noun [countable] British informal

'They smoked spliffs, drank alcohol, sniffed glue, had sex, twocked cars, and had runs-ins with the police, but it is not sentimentalising things to say that each of those kids, difficult and unruly as they were, had their special talent or ability …'

The Guardian 13th September 2006

'Contemplating the record of a young twocker serving a six-month order for stealing cars, Marsden thought: "I know just the book he ought to read."'

The Guardian 23rd June 2004

If someone tells you that their car has been twocked, then anyone unfamiliar with their choice of vocabulary should note that the appropriate response is sympathy rather than enthusiasm. For the uninitiated, twoc is now a transitive verb, joining the ranks of pinch and nick in British English as an informal synonym for the verb 'to steal'.

Over the last decade or so, twoc, an acronym of Taken Without Owner's Consent, has been used as an alternative way of describing the concept of joyriding, stealing a car and driving it for pleasure, usually in a dangerous way. Twoc is an informal transitive verb which has found official recognition in, among others, the Compact Oxford and Encarta World dictionaries.

the capitalized acronym is officially used by the police in England and Wales to describe any unauthorized use of a vehicle that is not actual theft

There are a number of derivations and spelling variations associated with twoc. A countable noun twoc (plural form twocks) refers to an instance of theft, and the participle noun twocking (also spelt twoccing) refers to the activity. Perpetrators are known as twockers/twoccers. The inflected forms of the verb are variants twocs/twocks for third person present, twocced/twocked for simple past and past participle, and twoccing/twocking for present participle.

What's more, twoc has even inspired the name of a dedicated website – twoc.co.uk – where users can report and check for information on stolen cars.

Though twoc is still primarily associated with the theft of cars, and joyriding in particular, it is increasingly being used as a general slang term for stealing anything, not just cars. Examples from web-based forums include:

… someone twocked my Reebok classics …
… who twocked my pencil?
… [He] said stop twocking his parking spot …

Background – twoc

An acronym is an abbreviation of a phrase that is pronounced as a word, and twoc is based on the wording in a clause of the UK's 1968 Theft Act: Taken Without Owner's Consent. The capitalized acronym is officially used by the police in England and Wales to describe any unauthorized use of a vehicle that is not actual theft. Common synonyms are UTMV (Unauthorised Taking of a Motor Vehicle), and TADA or TDA (Taken [and] Driven Away). With the sharp rise in car crime in the early 1990s, TWOC became decapitalized and used in police slang as a verb, spawning the noun derivatives twoccing for the activity and twoccer for perpetrators. This usage quickly filtered into general British slang.

by Kerry Maxwell, author of Brave New Words

This article was first published on 18th February 2008.

Open Dictionary


a form of location that involves the underwater detonation of a bomb which causes sound waves that are picked up by ships

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