Definition of bailiwick
- … concerns at the spy agency that the Pentagon is intruding into its traditional bailiwick.
- —Scott Shane and Mark Mazzetti
Theme music by Joshua Stamper ©2006 New Jerusalem Music/ASCAP
questions about organization of the fund drive are my bailiwick
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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.
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