bailiwick

noun bai·li·wick \ ˈbā-li-ˌwik , -lē- \

Definition of bailiwick

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

bailiwick was our Word of the Day on 10/05/2015. Hear the podcast!

Examples of bailiwick in a Sentence

  1. questions about organization of the fund drive are my bailiwick

Recent Examples of bailiwick from the Web

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.

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.

Origin and Etymology of 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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