1. A court attendant entrusted with duties such as the maintenance of order in a courtroom during a trial.
2. An official who assists a British sheriff and who has the power to execute writs, processes, and arrests.
3. Chiefly British An overseer of an estate; a steward.
[Middle English baillif, from Old French baillis, baillif-, overseer of an estate, steward, from Medieval Latin *bāiulīvus, from Latin bāiulus, carrier.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.