One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A bailiff empowered to collect debts or arrest debtors for nonpayment.
- ‘They are also often called bum-bailiffs or, shortly, ‘bums’.’
- ‘The drum and fife by day, and the jolly carouse at the lodge at night, will be too much for you; but the Presbyterians whose fathers were United Irishmen, would prefer twenty acres of free land to the whole clanjaffray of kings, Parliaments, and bum-bailiffs.’
- ‘Practically what was really required was a sort of glorified bum-bailiff, with the necessary assistance, the bum-bailiff holding a position similar to that of a magistrate.’
- ‘They will do what the law commands, but they will not volunteer to act as tip-staves of bum-bailiffs.’
- ‘Up to the time that a post office was established on January 1, 1806, it was known as Bumbridge because the bum-bailiff fell through the bridge while attempting to arrest a person.’
Early 17th century: from bum, so named because of the association of an approach from behind.
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