Bailiwick


Bailiwick

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). (For more on this French judicial system, see bailli, prévôt and Early Modern France.)

A bailiwick ( _de. ballei) was also the territorial division of the Teutonic Order.

In English, the original French "bailie" was combined with '-wic', the Anglo-Saxon suffix meaning a village, to produce a term meaning literally 'bailiff's village' - the original geographic scope of a bailiwick. In the 19th century, it was absorbed into American English as a metaphor for one's sphere of knowledge or activity.

The term survives in administrative usage in the Channel Islands, which for administrative purposes are grouped into the two bailiwicks of Jersey (comprising the island of Jersey and uninhabited islets such as the Minquiers and Écréhous) and Guernsey (comprising the islands of Guernsey, Sark, Alderney, Brecqhou, Herm, Jethou and Lihou). Each Channel Island bailiwick is headed by a Bailiff.


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • bailiwick — I noun area, arena, authority, circle, department, district, domain, dominion, enclave, field, haunt, jurisdiction, orbit, precinct, province, purlieu, realm, region, specialty, sphere, sway, territory, ward II index domain (sphere of influence) …   Law dictionary

  • Bailiwick — Bail i*wick, n. [Bailie, bailiff + wick a village.] (Law) The precincts within which a bailiff has jurisdiction; the limits of a bailiff s authority. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • bailiwick — district of a bailiff, early 15c., baillifwik, from BAILIFF (Cf. bailiff) (q.v.) + O.E. wic village (see WICK (Cf. wick) (2)). Figurative sense of one s natural or proper sphere is first recorded 1843 …   Etymology dictionary

  • bailiwick — province, domain, territory, *field, sphere …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • bailiwick — ► NOUN Law ▪ the district or jurisdiction of a bailiff. ORIGIN from BAILIFF(Cf. ↑bailiff) + Old English wick «dwelling place» …   English terms dictionary

  • bailiwick — [bā′lə wik] n. [ME < baili,BAILIE + wik < OE wic, village: see ECONOMY] 1. the district of a bailiff 2. one s particular area of activity, authority, interest, etc …   English World dictionary

  • bailiwick — n. in one s own bailiwick * * * [ beɪlɪwɪk] in one s own bailiwick …   Combinatory dictionary

  • bailiwick — /bay leuh wik /, n. 1. the district within which a bailie or bailiff has jurisdiction. 2. a person s area of skill, knowledge, authority, or work: to confine suggestions to one s own bailiwick. [1425 75; late ME, equiv. to baili BAILIE + wick… …   Universalium

  • Bailiwick — The district within the jurisdiction of a *bailiff. [< bailiff + OldEngl. wic = office, function] Cf. Bailiwick; wick …   Dictionary of Medieval Terms and Phrases

  • bailiwick — I (New American Roget s College Thesaurus) n. district, region; area of concern, business. II (Roget s 3 Superthesaurus) (VOCABULARY WORD) n. [BAL i wik] one s area of special interest or expertise. My personal bailiwick is paleontology. SYN.:… …   English dictionary for students


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