bai·​liff | \ ˈbā-ləf How to pronounce bailiff (audio) \

Definition of bailiff

1a : an official employed by a British sheriff to serve writs and make arrests and executions
b : a minor officer of some U.S. courts usually serving as a messenger or usher
2 chiefly British : one who manages an estate or farm

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Other Words from bailiff

bailiffship \ ˈbā-​ləf-​ˌship How to pronounce bailiffship (audio) \ noun

Examples of bailiff in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The bailiff had handed her stuffed animals over the years and the judge always tried to find a safe place for her. Steve Lopezcolumnist, Los Angeles Times, "Column: My students earned the cap and gown, but they’ll miss out on the day they dreamed about for years," 25 Apr. 2020 With the help of her mom, Vilailuck Teigen, as the bailiff, Chrissy delivers legally binding verdicts. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "The 15 Best Quibi Shows and Movies That Make Downloading the App Totally Worth It," 3 Apr. 2020 Individuals attempting to enter in violation of these protocols shall be denied entrance by a bailiff or court security officer. Andrew Wolfson, The Courier-Journal, "State postpones most court hearings but jailed defendants awaiting trial still at risk," 13 Mar. 2020 His attorneys are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene, alleging his trial jury was improperly influenced because a bailiff wore a necktie with an image of a syringe that showed his support for the death penalty. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Texas inmate set to be executed for killing 2 stepsons," 24 Sep. 2019 Normally, county and criminal court judges can have up to 80 people or more in their courts — inmates brought from the jail, their attorneys, the judge, court staff, family members and bailiffs. Elizabeth Zavala,, "‘Thinking outside the box’: Videoconferencing debuts in San Antonio courtroom amid coronavirus outbreak," 20 Mar. 2020 On Thursday, a bailiff sprayed the defense team’s table and chairs with Lysol between cases. Elizabeth Zavala,, "‘Thinking outside the box’: Videoconferencing debuts in San Antonio courtroom amid coronavirus outbreak," 20 Mar. 2020 The bailiff called for police, who evacuated the building and brought in negotiators to de-escalate the situation. Robin Goist, cleveland, "Akron man died of self-inflicted gunshot during SWAT standoff, medical examiner says," 12 Feb. 2020 Instead of answering, the judge called over a bailiff and ordered him to remove Fielder from the courtroom. Elizabeth Zavala,, "Judge boots prosecutor from San Antonio courtroom over spouse’s political donation," 21 Feb. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'bailiff.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of bailiff

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for bailiff

Middle English baillif, bailie, from Anglo-French baillif, from bail power, authority, office, from baillier to govern, administer, from Medieval Latin bajulare to care for, support, from Latin, to carry a burden — more at bail entry 3

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Time Traveler for bailiff

Time Traveler

The first known use of bailiff was in the 14th century

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Statistics for bailiff

Last Updated

26 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Bailiff.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for bailiff


How to pronounce bailiff (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of bailiff

US : an officer in a court of law who helps the judge control the people in the courtroom
British : someone hired by a sheriff to bring legal documents to people and to take away possessions when people cannot pay for them
British : someone who manages the land and property of another person


bai·​liff | \ ˈbā-ləf How to pronounce bailiff (audio) \

Legal Definition of bailiff

: an officer of some courts in the U.S. whose duties usually include keeping order in the courtroom and guarding prisoners or jurors in deliberation

History and Etymology for bailiff

Anglo-French, steward, king's official, from bail stewardship, custody, handing over — see bail

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More from Merriam-Webster on bailiff

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with bailiff

Spanish Central: Translation of bailiff

Nglish: Translation of bailiff for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of bailiff for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about bailiff

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