From the movie Goodfellas:

Police to gangster: Talk to me. When was the last time you took a collar? Fuckhead, I'm talking to you.

I can't find anything on the Internet. Does "take a collar" mean "be questioned" or "be detained by police"?

  • 4
    merriam-webster.com/dictionary/collar : an act of collaring : arrest, capture. idioms.thefreedictionary.com/collar : Of police, to arrest or detain someone, such as a suspect of a crime. Police were able to collar the suspect after he fled down one of the neighborhood's back alleys. In general it's a good idea to look up the individual words in a phrase first to see if there are any definitions that make sense in context before trying to find the entire phrase.
    – ColleenV
    Commented Apr 29, 2018 at 1:43
  • I have not heard the verb collar with take but with make, when it means "to arrest, to apprehend". To take a collar means "to get arrested", I think, as James says in his answer.
    – TimR
    Commented Apr 29, 2018 at 10:44

2 Answers 2


"Collar" has a verbal meaning "to arrest or detain someone (MW) So this is related to "arrest" not "questioning" (This meaning dates back to the 1500s, from a meaning "grab someone by the neck")

A collar, then, in this context means "an act of being arrested". A little more context from the movie could make the exact meaning of "take a collar" clear. It seems to mean "allow oneself to be arrested for a crime committed by another person". Given that "Goodfellas" is about gangsters I suppose a low-level gangster might "take a collar" to protect a higher ranking gangster.


it just means to be arrested, because a cop would grab you by the collar sometimes, it doesn't have anything to do with taking the wrap for someone else's crime. not sure of the origination, but its just an old school way of saying being arrested.

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