Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Bailiwick \BAY-luh-wik\ , noun;
1. A person's specific area of knowledge, authority, interest, skill, or work
2. The office or district of a bailiff

This word, alternately baillifwik, dates to the mid-15th century with the first definition listed. It is a combination of bailiff and Old English wic ("village"). The second definition is first attested in 1843.

Bailiff dates to the mid-13th century and comes from Old French baillif ("administrative official, deputy"). The Old French word derives from Vulgar Latin *bajulivus ("official in charge of a castle"), which comes from Latin bajulus ("porter"). Middle English bailiff was used to refer to a public administrator of a district, a chief officer of a Hundred, or an officer under a sheriff.

The Modern English wick that the above etymology refers to is not the same thing as a lamp or candle wick. Instead, it is a mostly obsolete word that most recently meant "dairy farm" which today only survives as a localism in East Anglia or Essex. That wick comes from Old English wic, which originally meant "dwelling place abode", then "village, hamlet, town" and eventually "dairy farm". Wic entered the Germanic language family at some point as a borrowing from Latin vicus ("village, hamlet").

The other wick comes from Old English weoce, which is derived from West Germanic *weukon of unknown origin.

Today's word and the first definition were both taken from Dictionary.com's 'Word of the Day' for Tuesday, February 22
Etymologies come from the Oxford English Dictionary and/or Etymonline.com

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