- (One’s bailiwick) One’s sphere of operations or particular area of interest.
- (Law) The district or jurisdiction of a bailie or bailiff.
“I’m hopeless in the sciences, but 19th-century literature is my bailiwick.”
“Ceramics are my bailiwick, but I’d like to take some photography classes this summer.”
“I’m only here to observe, because this district is out of my bailiwick.”
English, mid-19th century
Why this word?
We use “bailiff” to describe something specific — the official who oversees the security of a courtroom — but in the 15th century, it referred to the sheriff of a town or region, and their bailiwick was their area of jurisdiction. In the 1800s, “bailiwick” began to be used to describe a person’s area of expertise or study. A biology professor’s bailiwick, for example, might be the classification of mammals.
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