sheriff

Definitions

General English

Law

  • noun an official in charge of justice in a county
  • noun the chief judge in a district

Real Estate

  • noun a judge who presides over a sheriff court, one of the lower courts for civil and criminal cases

Slang

  • noun a fifty-pence coin. The nickname comes from the supposed resemblance to a western sheriff’s star.

Origin & History of “sheriff”

A sheriff is etymologically a ‘shire-reeve’ – that is, a ‘county official’. The term was compounded in the Old English period from scīr, ancestor of modern English shire, and gerēfa ‘local official’, a word based on *rōf ‘assembly’ which survives as the historical term reeve. It was used for the ‘monarch’s representative in a county’.
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