A Word A Day : Bailiwick

Tuesday, 22nd January 2008 : Today's Word is ...


( Noun )

Pronunciation : báyli-wìk

1. an area of activity in which somebody has specific responsibility, knowledge, or ability

2. sphere of specialized knowledge

3. the office or district of a bailiff


15th century - bailiff + obsolete wick - town - via Germanic - Latin vicus - village, homestead


A bailiwick is the area of jurisdiction of a bailiff. The term was also applied to a territory in which the sheriff's functions were exercised by a privately appointed bailiff under a Crown grant. The word is now more generally used in a metaphorical sense, to indicate a sphere of authority, experience, activity, study, or interest.

The term originated in France ( bailie being the Old French term for a bailiff ). Under the ancien régime in France, the bailli was the king's representative in a bailliage, charged with the application of justice and control of the administration. In southern France, the term generally used was sénéchal ( cf seneschal ) who held office in the sénéchaussée. The administrative network of baillages was established in the 13th century, based on the earlier medieval fiscal and tax divisions ( the baillie ) which had been used by earlier sovereign princes ( such as the Duke of Normandy ).


activity, administration, assignment, avocation, berth, bureau, business, capacity, class, classification, domain, dominion, duty, field, function, incumbency, jurisdiction, line, niche, occupation, office, province, realm, responsibility, slot, specialty, sphere, spot, station, vocation, wing, department


A location is a place. A locality is an area within a place. And a locale is a place regarded as an environment


range, sky, general field

Contextual Examples:

• Export permits are her bailiwick.

• You had better confine your suggestions to your own bailiwick.

• You have done evil within my bailiwick and so must die.

Related Words:

bailiwicks : Noun - Plural

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