Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day


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Build your vocabulary with Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day! Each day a Merriam-Webster editor offers insight into a fascinating new word -- explaining its meaning, current use, and little-known details about its origin.



October 5th, 2015

Episode 340 of 689 episodes

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 05, 2015 is: bailiwick \BAY-lih-wik\ noun 1 : the office or jurisdiction of a bailiff 2 : a special domain Examples: Since the organization of the annual Halloween party is Rhonda's bailiwick, you'll have to let her know if you plan to bring something to the festivities this year. "The conventional wisdom is that young people no longer care enough to stand up for what is important; that the days of activism and protest have faded into the past, the bailiwick of aging hippies and activists." The Easton (Massachusetts) Journal, 22 May 2015 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 the 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 derived from the 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 begin to appear in English until the middle of the 19th century.

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