• bailiwick •
Pronunciation: bey-lê-wik • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. The jurisdiction of a bailiff (or bailie), a sheriff or magistrate in England and, perhaps, a few other countries. 2. An estate manager. 3. An area of familiarity or expertise, as London might be someone's bailiwick or car repair might be.
Notes: Today's word is not related to the Old Bailey in London, the seat of the Central Criminal Court, made famous by Rumpole of the Bailey TV series. That building got its name from the ancient bailey or ballium, a section of the city wall within which it is situated. Remember that this word has 3 I's and ends on -CK.
In Play: Your bailiwick is an area with which you are familiar: "Toledo isn't my bailiwick; who do I see about fixing a parking ticket?" Your bailiwick may also be an area of expertise: "The kitchen is just not my bailiwick; I'm much more at home in a restaurant."
Word History: Today's word is genuine English, from Middle English bailie + wik(e) "village, district." Bailie is a shortened form of bailiff, taken from Latin bajulus "carrier, porter." Wick is the current form of Old English wic "hamlet, (city) district". It is akin to Latin vicus "town, district", found in French borrowings vicinity and vicar. Wick and its variant wich are found today only in proper nouns like Sedgewick, Hardwick, Greenwich, and Sandwich.