Some of the lines of the American drama Manifest that confused me:

It was said by a Policewoman boss to his subordinate

Look, you're being G.O. Sixteened. Do you understand? They catch you lying, you get fired. Automatically.

I googled "G.O. Sixteened" couldn't find anything helpful...

  • 4
    Where in America does the drama take place? It sounds to me like they're referring to a specific rule governing the police precinct, as in "General Order", but the numbering of those varies by location.
    – Alan T.
    Commented Oct 23, 2018 at 11:19
  • 1
    It's actually the drama 'Manifest' which is now screened this month.
    – scarlett
    Commented Oct 23, 2018 at 11:25
  • It takes place in Newyork. Does it give any meaning to "sixteen"?
    – scarlett
    Commented Oct 23, 2018 at 11:26
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    Verbing weirds language. Commented Oct 23, 2018 at 17:13
  • If the boss is a policewoman, the subordinate would be hers (rather than his), wouldn't they?
    – Glen_b
    Commented Oct 24, 2018 at 22:10

1 Answer 1


I am a non-enforcement employee of the NYPD.

The rules, regulations, and procedures of the Department are compiled in two books, called the "Patrol Guide" and the "Administrative Guide". Because of court decisions, changes in the law, and so on, changes in the rules/regulations/procedures occasionally must be made. When a change is made, a "General Order" is issued, documenting the change. The General Order remains in effect as such until the revised rule/regulation/procedure is incorporated into the next Guide update (which usually happens once per year). However, it is often the case that a procedure becomes known by its General Order number, even years after it has been incorporated into the Guide. This is the case with General Order 16, in the show - by now, it has been incorporated into the Guide, but it became so well-known as a General Order that the original name has 'stuck'. (Similar things happen to standardized paperwork; it has been decades since a complaint report [report of a crime] has borne the form ID number "61", but you still hear them called "sixty-ones".)

I can guess at what current procedure is being referred to, but it's not actually relevant for the purposes of this question. The phrase "You're being G.O. 16'd" simply means that the Department is invoking the provisions of the Guide procedure originally promulgated as General Order 16, and the person being spoken to in the scene is the target. The subsequent statements imply that the procedure in question is a disciplinary investigation, and if the target of the investigation is caught lying, it will be sufficient grounds, in and of itself, to get the target fired.

  • 8
    Similar popular usages in the U.S. include Section 8, a disused rule concerning discharge from the U.S. Army for mental unfitness (popularized by Catch-22 and MASH); Rule 34, which says if something exists, there is porn of it; and Rule 240, an obsolete reference for invoking airline customer service promises. The origin of the expression to 86 something, however, apparently remains unknown.
    – choster
    Commented Oct 23, 2018 at 16:39
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    @choster Maybe my ignorance is showing, but I thought 86 was based on cockney rhyming slang: 'you're eighty-sixed' ('nixed')? Commented Oct 23, 2018 at 17:27
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    @choster - while the "Section 8" usage is more-or-less analogous to the usage of GO16 in the question, GO16 is strictly the show's version of NYC PD jargon; it can't really be said to have entered popular usage, the way "Section 8" has. The "Rule 34" usage is definitely not the same sort of thing; one might argue that the "Rule 240" usage is - but it's apparently fallen out of common use even within the jargon of the originating organization. Commented Oct 23, 2018 at 17:32
  • 3
    @SSight3 The OED does suggest "rhyming slang" as a possible origin of the term, but unequivocally lists it as "U.S. slang" (first attestation is from a 1936 slang collection by the American Dialect Society, and the first UK attestation doesn't show up until 1959), so it's almost certainly not cockney.
    – 1006a
    Commented Oct 23, 2018 at 18:14
  • 1
    @choster - Section 8, GO16, and Rule 240 aren't "random"; they were the actual numbers of the document or section thereof that were being referenced, in actual procedure definitions for real organizations with needs for such procedures. Commented Oct 24, 2018 at 15:27

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