bai·​li·​wick ˈbā-li-ˌwik How to pronounce bailiwick (audio)
law enforcement : the office or jurisdiction of a bailiff (see bailiff sense 1a)
: 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

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 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 derives from 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 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 January 6th would seem to fall within that bailiwick, but, as court dockets up and down the Eastern Seaboard demonstrate, the insurrection and its surrounding intrigues remain very much part of America’s present tense. Bruce Handy, The New Yorker, 21 Aug. 2023 Middle Eastern, Asian, Italian and Indian markets, Trader Joe’s, high-end gourmet shops and local farmers markets are all in her bailiwick. Michelle Huneven, Los Angeles Times, 15 June 2023 The agency has since extended its bailiwick to isolated ponds, drainage ditches and dry creek beds. The Editorial Board, WSJ, 25 Jan. 2022 Once the bailiwick of backslapping buddies who play with a bag in one hand and a beer in the other, cornhole has mushroomed into a genuine gaming enterprise, with pro leagues, four-figure paydays and players whose jerseys bear logos of corporate sponsors. Mike Klingaman,, 28 Feb. 2021 Botanists, even amateurs, have a bailiwick. Jesse Will, Outside Online, 15 Mar. 2022 Something that's in your bailiwick is gas prices. NBC News, 31 Oct. 2021 Those are his bailiwick. Alli Harvey, Anchorage Daily News, 24 Apr. 2021 Being outside of his bailiwick Lewis seemed to be under some misimpressions. Razib Khan, Discover Magazine, 6 Apr. 2012 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'bailiwick.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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


Dictionary Entries Near bailiwick

Cite this Entry

“Bailiwick.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Sep. 2023.

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