bai·​li·​wick | \ ˈbā-li-ˌwik How to pronounce bailiwick (audio) , -lē- \

Definition of bailiwick

1 law enforcement : the office or jurisdiction of a bailiff (see bailiff sense 1a)
2 : the sphere in which one has superior knowledge or authority : a special domain (see domain sense 4) … concerns at the spy agency that the Pentagon is intruding into its traditional bailiwick.— Scott Shane and Mark Mazzetti

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Did You Know?

The first half of the word bailiwick comes from the Middle English word for "bailiff," in this case a term referring to a sheriff or chief officer of a town in medieval England, not the officer who assists today in U.S. courtrooms. Bailiff derives via Anglo-French from the Latin bajulare, meaning "to carry a burden." The second half of "bailiwick" comes from "wik," a Middle English word for "dwelling place" or "village," which ultimately derived from the Latin vicus, meaning "village." (This root also gave us "-wich" and "-wick," suffixes used in place names like Norwich and Warwick.) Although "bailiwick" dates from the 15th century, the "special domain" sense did not begin to appear in English until the middle of the 19th century.

Examples of bailiwick in a Sentence

questions about organization of the fund drive are my bailiwick
Recent Examples on the Web Weaver’s bailiwick has been Republican candidates whose greatest interest seems to be criticizing other Republicans. Jack Butler, National Review, "John Kasich’s Long, Strange Trip," 22 Oct. 2020 Reardon's usual focus is on using data from pulsar timing arrays to search for nanohertz-frequency gravitational waves, so magnets are a bit out of his bailiwick. Steve Mirsky, Scientific American, "Misinformation and Miscalculation in the Time of the Coronavirus," 26 May 2020 Her bailiwick as a child was the violin, but her stage act also included singing, dancing and even an escape-artistry act. Giovanni Russonello, New York Times, "Overlooked No More: Valaida Snow, Charismatic ‘Queen of the Trumpet’," 22 Feb. 2020 As for this past holiday season, one category that did well was smart home products, not typically Home Depot's bailiwick. Phil Wahba, Fortune, "Home Depot renovated its holiday merchandising, and Black Friday sales followed," 2 Mar. 2020 Fact-checkers did not always have such an expansive bailiwick. Alex Pareene, The New Republic, "How Political Fact-Checkers Distort the Truth," 8 Jan. 2020 This gets into the business of insurance products, and that is the bailiwick of agents and brokers. Amy Goldstein, Washington Post, "Administration slashes grants to help Americans get Affordable Care Act coverage," 10 July 2018 Fortunately for Henderson, a large portion of the account was directed to the corporate-and-financial team, which was outside Bell’s bailiwick. Ed Caesar, The New Yorker, "The Reputation-Laundering Firm That Ruined Its Own Reputation," 25 May 2018 In the latest of several excursions outside his ministerial bailiwick, Mr Salvini, who is also a deputy prime minister and leader of the hard-right Northern League, threatened to ban ships carrying Cambodian rice from docking in Italian ports. The Economist, "How Matteo Salvini is dominating Italian politics," 21 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'bailiwick.' 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 bailiwick

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for bailiwick

Middle English baillifwik, from baillif + wik dwelling place, village, from Old English wīc, from Latin vicus village — more at vicinity

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The first known use of bailiwick was in the 15th century

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Cite this Entry

“Bailiwick.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Feb. 2021.

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