[ sher-if ]
/ ˈʃɛr ɪf /


the law-enforcement officer of a county or other civil subdivision of a state.
(formerly) an important civil officer in an English shire.

Nearby words

  1. sheria,
  2. sheridan,
  3. sheridan, philip henry,
  4. sheridan, richard brinsley,
  5. sherif,
  6. sheriff court,
  7. sheriffalty,
  8. sheriffwick,
  9. sherlock,
  10. sherlockian

Origin of sheriff

before 1050; Middle English sher(r)ef, Old English scīrgerēfa. See shire, reeve1

Related formssher·iff·dom [sher-if-duh m] /ˈʃɛr ɪf dəm/, nounsub·sher·iff, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for sheriff

British Dictionary definitions for sheriff


/ (ˈʃɛrɪf) /


(in the US) the chief law-enforcement officer in a county: popularly elected, except in Rhode Island
(in England and Wales) the chief executive officer of the Crown in a county, having chiefly ceremonial dutiesRelated adjective: shrieval
(in Scotland) a judge in any of the sheriff courts
(in Australia) an administrative officer of the Supreme Court, who enforces judgments and the execution of writs, empanels juries, etc
(in New Zealand) an officer of the High Court
Derived Formssheriffdom, noun

Word Origin for sheriff

Old English scīrgerēfa, from scīr shire 1 + gerēfa reeve 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 sheriff



late Old English scirgerefa "representative of royal authority in a shire," from scir (see shire) + gerefa "chief, official, reeve" (see reeve). As an American county official, attested from 1660s; sheriff's sale first recorded 1798. Sheriff's tooth (late 14c.) was a common name for the annual tax levied to pay for the sheriff's victuals during court sessions.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper