noun; sound symbolism
A telescoping nightstick, extendable with a flick of the wrist. This word became widespread in the community of New York City police officers when a new piece of equipment was introduced. When the new nightstick was introduced, the only way to refer to it would be as 'that new nightstick.' The easiest way to shorten that phrase was to call it by some identifying characteristic, in this case the sound it made when extended for use.
Nonetheless, the time counted for his shield, and there were other perks. John was trained in the use of the ‘asp,’ the new, telescoping nightstick, which you’d extend with the flick of a wrist, and perps would run at the sound of it.
Etymology : Sound symbolism. When extended, the nightstick makes a sound similar to a hiss, which is more easily pronounced as 'asp'. Not related to 'asp' (a poisonous snake, from Latin 'aspis', earlier from Greek)
Source : Edward Conlon. 'Blue Blood'. New York: Riverhead Books, 2004
Last modified: 10 June 2008