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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    1. 1.1 An 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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘They numbered some of the most powerful people in Scotland - judges, sheriffs and senior lawyers used to putting their case eloquently and with force.’
    judge, magistrate, her honour, his honour, your honour
    View synonyms
  • 3US An elected officer in a county, responsible for keeping the peace.

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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 county sheriff's office made clear that it was targeting this event because it was a rave.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘And the spokeswoman for the Broward County sheriffs office candidly stated that we did that because of the media hype.’
    • ‘Police officers, county sheriffs, and highway patrolman enjoyed a strong, healthy relationship with the original S&W.357 Magnum six-gun.’
    • ‘The Orange County sheriff's office says that he's expected to be just fine.’
    • ‘So there are police officers, county sheriffs out there directing the traffic.’
    • ‘The sheriff's office, instead, runs the county jail, provides security for the courts and county buildings and serves judicial subpoenas.’
    • ‘At age 28, he was elected sheriff of Schuylkill County, a position he held from 1986 to 1992.’
    • ‘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 sheriff's office typically responds to anonymous complaints within two weeks.’
    • ‘Joseph Arpaio was elected sheriff of Maricopa County in 1992.’
    • ‘But Gross says the sheriff's office was responsive in at least one respect: providing access to public documents.’
    • ‘And not only is she the first elected female sheriff in the county, she's also a lesbian.’
    • ‘In response, the sheriff's department opened a booking center for the homeless that operates two days a week at the Criminal Justice Center.’
    • ‘Although the county sheriff's office was just a block away, their bootleg business allegedly dwarfed their trade in seed, feed and gardening equipment.’
    • ‘By the time they got to Virginia they were quite used to setting up counties and electing sheriffs and bailiffs.’
    • ‘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.’
  • 4Australian An officer of the Supreme Court who enforces judgements and the execution of writs.

    • ‘These relate to the conduct of officers of the registry of the Supreme Court and of officers of the sheriff of that court.’
    • ‘Your Honour, the terms were to continue until notified to present himself to the sheriff.’
    • ‘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).