Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for November 10, 2020 is:

bailiwick • BAY-lih-wik  • noun

1 law enforcement : the office or jurisdiction of a bailiff

2 : the sphere in which one has superior knowledge or authority : a special domain


“Until his death in 1764, at 67, [William Hogarth’s] soul resided in Drury Lane and Grub Street, the bailiwick of actors, tradesmen and engravers like himself.” — Michael Kimmelman, The New York Times, 30 Nov. 1997

“Staging theater in unusual but thematically appropriate locations is nothing new to Seghers, who once … seated theatergoers in a barn to watch a young man’s obsession with horses play out in ‘Equus.’ ‘This is right in his bailiwick,’ said John DiDonna, who chairs the theater department at Valencia College. ‘Jeremy lives to do shows that are site-specific or environmental.'” — Matthew J. Palm, The Orlando Sentinel, 6 Aug. 2020

Did you know?

The first half of the word bailiwick comes from the Middle English word for “bailiff”—in this case, a term referring to a sheriff or chief officer of a town in medieval England, not the officer who assists today in U.S. courtrooms. Bailiff derives, via Anglo-French, from Latin bajulare, meaning “to carry a burden.” The second half of bailiwick comes from wik, a Middle English word for “dwelling place” or “village,” which ultimately derives from Latin vicus, meaning “village.” (This root also gave us -wich and -wick, suffixes used in place names like Norwich and Warwick.) Although bailiwick dates from the 15th century, the “special domain” sense did not appear in English until the middle of the 19th century.

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