• enPR: bāʹ-lĭf, IPA: /ˈbeɪlɪf/

bailiff (plural bailiffs)

  1. (law enforcement) An officer of the court, particularly:
    1. (historical, Norman term) A reeve, (specifically) the chief officer executing the decisions of any English court in the period following the Norman Conquest or executing the decisions of lower courts in the late medieval and early modern period.
    2. (UK) A high bailiff: an officer of the county courts responsible for executing warrants and court orders, appointed by the judge and removable by the Lord Chancellor.
    3. (UK) A bound bailiff: a deputy bailiff charged with debt collection.
    4. (US) Any law enforcement officer charged with courtroom security and order.
    5. A huissier de justice or other foreign officer of the court acting as either a process server or as courtroom security.
  2. A public administrator, particularly:
    1. (obsolete) A king's man: any officer nominated by the English Crown.
    2. (historical) The chief officer of a hundred in medieval England.
    3. The title of the mayor of certain English towns.
    4. The title of the castellan of certain royal castles in England.
    5. The chief justice and president of the legislature on Jersey and Guernsey in the Channel Islands.
    6. The High Bailiff of the Isle of Man.
    7. (obsolete) A bailie: an alderman in certain Scottish towns.
    8. (historical) An appointee of the French king administering certain districts of northern France in the Middle Ages.
    9. (historical) A head of a district ("bailiwick") of the Knights Hospitaller; a head of one of the national associations ("tongues") of the Hospitallers' headquarters on Rhodes or Malta.
    10. (historical) A landvogt in the medieval German states.
  3. A private administrator, particularly anchor Steward
    1. (historical) A steward: the manager of a medieval manor charged with collecting its rents, etc.
    2. (historical) An overseer: a supervisor of tenant farmers, serfs, or slaves, usually as part of his role as steward (see above).
    3. (historical, mining) The foreman or overman of a mine.
  4. (UK, slang) Any debt collector, regardless of his or her official status.
  • (British law enforcement officer) high bailiff, high-bailiff; warrant officer, beadle (in role of executing warrants); catchpoll, bumbailiff (in role of arresting debtors); process server (in role of serving processes and summonses)
  • (mayor) High-bailiff, High Bailiff; see also mayor
  • (castellan) See castellan
  • (officer of the Channel Islands) bailly
  • (Scottish alderman) See bailie
  • (medieval French magistrate) consul (southern France); capitoul (Toulouse); jurat (Bordeaux)
  • (medieval German magistrate) See landvogt
  • (medieval administrator) See steward
  • (medieval overseer) See overseer
Related terms Translations
  • Russian: бе́йлиф
Proper noun
  1. Surname

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