Definition of sheriff in English:



  • 1(in England and Wales) the chief executive officer of the Crown in a county, having various administrative and judicial functions.

    • ‘Torching Lanark and killing the English sheriff fell very squarely within Edward's definition of treason.’
    • ‘They argued that the later Privy Council decision R v HM Advocate had held that it was ultra vires for the procurator fiscal to bring proceedings before a temporary sheriff.’
    • ‘‘Somebody's gonna have to pay for it one way or another,’ said the sheriff of King William County at the time.’
    • ‘In a letter the procurator fiscal raised no objection to this, but in court the Crown argued, and the sheriff accepted, that the motion was incompetent.’
    • ‘There was enough of a gap before seeing the county sheriff for a breathalyser test to be worthless.’
    1. 1.1An honorary officer elected annually in some English towns.
  • 2(in Scotland) a judge.

    • ‘Scotland's sheriffs and judges are already ranked among the most lenient in Europe.’
    • ‘They numbered some of the most powerful people in Scotland - judges, sheriffs and senior lawyers used to putting their case eloquently and with force.’
    • ‘Judges, sheriffs and advocates are to be asked to remove their wigs and gowns and stop using arcane language under plans to make Scottish courts less intimidating.’
    • ‘Although adopted in England, the introduction of such guidelines in Scotland would provoke opposition to the Executive from the legal establishment, especially from sheriffs and High Court judges.’
    • ‘To make matters more complicated, ministers want to bring Scotland's judges and sheriffs under a single management structure, with a secretariat staffed by officials from the Scottish Executive.’
    judge, magistrate, her honour, his honour, your honour
    View synonyms
  • 3US An elected officer in a county, responsible for keeping the peace.

    • ‘In fact, he purchased a Florida home at that point for his wife and two children, then sought and was promised a job in a county sheriff's office.’
    • ‘The Orange County sheriff's office says that he's expected to be just fine.’
    • ‘But Gross says the sheriff's office was responsive in at least one respect: providing access to public documents.’
    • ‘Larry, why don't I say a few words before - before the sheriff responds to the questions, let me just say a few words.’
    • ‘The fourth call was handed over to the county sheriff's office and a female deputy was dispatched to assist her in donning her hosiery.’
    • ‘The sheriff's office typically responds to anonymous complaints within two weeks.’
    • ‘By the time they got to Virginia they were quite used to setting up counties and electing sheriffs and bailiffs.’
    • ‘Although the county sheriff's office was just a block away, their bootleg business allegedly dwarfed their trade in seed, feed and gardening equipment.’
    • ‘Police officers, county sheriffs, and highway patrolman enjoyed a strong, healthy relationship with the original S&W.357 Magnum six-gun.’
    • ‘In response, the sheriff's department opened a booking center for the homeless that operates two days a week at the Criminal Justice Center.’
    • ‘Joseph Arpaio was elected sheriff of Maricopa County in 1992.’
    • ‘Lupe Valdez - a woman, a Hispanic, a Democrat and a lesbian - was elected sheriff of Dallas County, Texas, last week with 51 percent of the vote.’
    • ‘The sheriff's office, instead, runs the county jail, provides security for the courts and county buildings and serves judicial subpoenas.’
    • ‘Drunk and impaired drivers have to be kept off the road because other people's lives are at stake, so by all means bring your concerns to the county sheriff's office.’
    • ‘So there are police officers, county sheriffs out there directing the traffic.’
    • ‘We reported last night here on several police departments in California that are trying to reverse a longstanding policy preventing police officers and deputy sheriffs from enforcing our national immigration laws.’
    • ‘And not only is she the first elected female sheriff in the county, she's also a lesbian.’
    • ‘The county sheriff's office made clear that it was targeting this event because it was a rave.’
    • ‘And the spokeswoman for the Broward County sheriffs office candidly stated that we did that because of the media hype.’
    • ‘At age 28, he was elected sheriff of Schuylkill County, a position he held from 1986 to 1992.’
  • 4Australian An officer of the Supreme Court who enforces judgements and the execution of writs.

    • ‘Your Honour, the terms were to continue until notified to present himself to the sheriff.’
    • ‘These relate to the conduct of officers of the registry of the Supreme Court and of officers of the sheriff of that court.’
    • ‘If he returns bona vacentia on the goods, then the writ which may be registered on the title can then be enforced by sale by the sheriff.’
    • ‘If they speak to sheriff's officers and so on, we go into all these things and they are examined in courts of law.’
    • ‘Special bailiffs are officers appointed by the sheriff at the request of a plaintiff for the purpose of executing a particular process.’


Old English scīrgerēfa (see shire, reeve).