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See more synonyms for bailiff on Thesaurus.com
  1. an officer, similar to a sheriff or a sheriff's deputy, employed to execute writs and processes, make arrests, keep order in the court, etc.
  2. (in Britain) a person charged with local administrative authority, or the chief magistrate in certain towns.
  3. (especially in Britain) an overseer of a landed estate or farm.
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Origin of bailiff

1250–1300; Middle English baillif < Old French, equivalent to bail custody (see bail1) + -if -ive
Related formsbail·iff·ship, nounsub·bail·iff, nounun·der·bail·iff, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for bailiff


  1. British the agent or steward of a landlord or landowner
  2. a sheriff's officer who serves writs and summonses, makes arrests, and ensures that the sentences of the court are carried out
  3. mainly British (formerly) a high official having judicial powers
  4. mainly US an official having custody of prisoners appearing in court
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Word Origin

C13: from Old French baillif, from bail custody; see bail 1
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for bailiff


mid-13c., from Old French baillif (12c., nominative baillis) "administrative official, deputy," from Vulgar Latin *bajulivus "official in charge of a castle," from Latin bajulus "porter," of unknown origin. Used in Middle English of a public administrator of a district, a chief officer of a Hundred, or an officer under a sheriff.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper