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 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 In theory, orchestrating an action plan after this report would be right in the cyber czar’s bailiwick. Derek Hawkins, Washington Post, "The Cybersecurity 202: White House cybersecurity report shows federal agencies still struggling to get secure," 30 May 2018 Each has his main bailiwick: Erik focuses more on e-commerce, Blake on Nordstrom Rack and tech, and Pete on merchandising and brand partnerships. Phil Wahba, Fortune, "Why Nordstrom Is Betting on High-Touch Tech," 25 May 2018 Note the shift of venue to Symphony Center from the series’ regular bailiwick, the Harris Theater for Music and Dance. John Von Rhein,, "Honoring Pierre Boulez, the titan of modernism who opened the ears of Chicagoans to the music of our time," 15 May 2018 Their bailiwick now includes how Muslims should act on social media. Sudarsan Raghavan, Washington Post, "Buying ‘likes’ on Facebook is ‘immoral’, Egypt’s top Muslim cleric declares," 17 Apr. 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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Last Updated

22 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Bailiwick.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 26 January 2020.

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Comments on bailiwick

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to express in a more acceptable way

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