Definition of the Black and Tans from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary

 

the Black and Tans

 
BrE
 
; NAmE
 
(disapproving)
 
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a name for the extra police force sent from England to Ireland in 1920, during the Troubles, to help the police there against Sinn Fein. As there were not enough police uniforms, they were given a mixture of police and army clothing: dark green caps and tan (= light brown) uniforms. The name 'Black and Tans' was also a reference to their cruel methods, as it was the name of a pack of dogs used for hunting in County Limerick.