bailiff

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English[edit]

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Etymology[edit]

From Anglo-Norman and Old French bailif (plural bailis), probably from Late Latin reconstructed as *bāiulivus ‎(castellan), from Latin baiulus ‎(porter; steward), whence also bail. As a translation of foreign titles, via French bailli, Scots bailie, Dutch baljuw, etc. Role, and later word, mostly replaced native reeve.

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

bailiff ‎(plural bailiffs)

  1. (law enforcement) An officer of the court, particularly:
    1. (historical) The Norman term for a reeve, (specifically) the chief officer executing the decisions of any English court in the period following the Norman Conquest or executing the decisions of lower courts in the late medieval and early modern period.
    2. (Britain) A high bailiff: an officer of the county courts responsible for executing warrants and court orders, appointed by the judge and removable by the Lord Chancellor.
    3. (Britain) A bumbailiff: a deputy bailiff charged with debt collection.
    4. (US, colloquial) A generic term for any law enforcement officer charged with courtroom security and order.
    5. A huissier de justice or other foreign officer of the court acting as either a process server or as courtroom security.
  2. A public administrator, particularly:
    1. (obsolete) A king's man: any officer nominated by the English Crown.
    2. (historical) The chief officer of a hundred in medieval England.
    3. The title of the mayor of certain English towns.
    4. The title of the castellan of certain royal castles in England.
    5. The chief justice and president of the legislature on Jersey and Guernsey in the Channel Islands.
      • 2011 June 29, “The Bailiff of Jersey”, in States Assembly[1], retrieved 2013-03-03:
        The Bailiff of Jersey is the President of the States and acts as Speaker of the Assembly in the Westminster tradition. He is responsible for the orderly conduct of the States Assembly and its business. As Presiding Officer he has the right of speech – which is mainly exercised for ensuring the orderly conduct of the proceedings – but he cannot vote.
    6. The High Bailiff of the Isle of Man.
    7. (obsolete) A bailie: an alderman in certain Scottish towns.
    8. (historical) An appointee of the French king administering certain districts of northern France in the Middle Ages.
    9. (historical) A head of a district ("bailiwick") of the Knights Hospitaller; a head of one of the national associations ("tongues") of the Hospitallers' headquarters on Rhodes or Malta.
    10. (historical) A landvogt in the medieval German states.
  3. A private administrator, particularly
    1. (historical) A steward: the manager of a medieval manor charged with collecting its rents, etc.
    2. (historical) An overseer: a supervisor of tenant farmers, serfs, or slaves, usually as part of his role as steward (see above).
      • 1918, W. B. Maxwell, chapter 19, in The Mirror and the Lamp:
        Nothing was too small to receive attention, if a supervising eye could suggest improvements likely to conduce to the common welfare. Mr. Gordon Burnage, for instance, personally visited dust-bins and back premises, accompanied by a sort of village bailiff, going his round like a commanding officer doing billets.
  4. (Britain, slang) Any debt collector, regardless of his or her official status.

Usage notes[edit]

Although bailiff is the most common term in American English for the law-enforcement officers who provide security and maintain order in a courtroom, such officers are often formally known by other titles, which vary by jurisdiction.

Synonyms[edit]

Hypernyms[edit]

Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]

See also[edit]

  • reeve (earlier form of office)

Translations[edit]

The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.

References[edit]

  • Oxford English Dictionary, 1st ed. "bailiff, n." Oxford University Press (Oxford), 1885.