Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Legal, Acronyms, Idioms, Wikipedia.


1. (in the US) the chief law-enforcement officer in a county: popularly elected, except in Rhode Island
2. (in England and Wales) the chief executive officer of the Crown in a county, having chiefly ceremonial duties
3. (in Scotland) a judge in any of the sheriff courts
4. (in Australia) an administrative officer of the Supreme Court, who enforces judgments and the execution of writs, empanels juries, etc.
5. (in New Zealand) an officer of the High Court
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(Russian, sudebnyi ispolnitel’), the official responsible for the compulsory execution of court decisions, rulings, and decrees in civil cases and also for the execution of court settlements, sentences, rulings, and decrees in criminal cases to the extent that they involve property exactions.

In the USSR, sheriffs also execute the decisions of arbiters, comrades’ courts, commissions on labor disputes, and other such bodies. They are appointed by the ministers of justice of autonomous republics and the heads of judicial departments of executive committees of krai, oblast, and city soviets of people’s deputies. The requirements imposed by sheriffs for the execution of court decisions are binding on all state institutions, enterprises, kolkhozes, other cooperative and public organizations, officials, and citizens throughout the USSR.



an executive officer in a county (or sometimes another administrative-territorial unit) in Great Britain, Ireland, and the USA.

The legal status of sheriffs in Great Britain is defined by the norms of common law, by parliamentary statutes (since the 14th century), and, in particular, by the Sheriffs Act of 1877. A sheriff is appointed by a special commission that acts under royal authority and is headed by the lord lieutenant of the county. Sheriffs are chosen from among the landowners of the counties. Poor people, lords, priests, officers in active service, and practicing barristers and solicitors are among those who are not eligible for the office. Sheriffs are invested with administrative and judicial powers, such as the execution of sentences, the holding of elections, the selection of juries, and the supervision of jails.

In the USA, in all states except Rhode Island, a sheriff is elected by the residents of the county. His jurisdiction extends only to rural areas, and he fulfills mainly administrative and police functions. He maintains law and order, supervises jails, makes arrests, and checks the observance of state laws regulating such activities as traffic and the sale of alcohol.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in classic literature ?
You shamed the Sheriff e'en as I had hoped to do; and we can forego the golden arrow since it is in such fair hands.
As a result of the $20 fee paid by car show entrants and the sale of Law Enforcement Torch Run T-shirts, the sheriff's office will be donating $5,158 to the Special Olympics of Illinois.
During the time a bond referendum was passed, a construction management company was hired, an architectural firm was selected and a construction company began work, I served as the Arlington County Sheriff. Although I was no longer the Sheriff when the facility was opened, I take pride in knowing my home county houses a facility that is humane, full of programming for residents and has been accredited many times over.
Doe - Sheriff and the CDC fell apart long before the party and the National Patriotic Party (NPP) of Vice President Jewel Howard - Taylor and the Liberian People Democratic Party (LPDP) of former Speaker Alex Tyler formed a coalition that rules Liberia today.
He was appointed to the Sheriffdom of South Strathclyde, Dumfries and Galloway and was installed at Hamilton Sheriff Court.
Martin Parish Sheriff's Office on Friday, October 5, 2018
Recent recruits to the bench include human rights lawyer Tony Kelly, who sits at Glasgow Sheriff Court.
Upon arriving they found that the front door was barricaded and that it appeared to have burn marks near the handle, ( according to a Facebook post from the sheriff's office . 
On Tuesday, Mitchell's vehicle was found at the Separation Lake trailhead near the Three Sisters Wilderness, the Lane County Sheriff's Office announced Thursday.
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, who has never been friends with Mirkarimi, actively sought to get rid of the sheriff. On the other hand, the very popular sheriff who served years before retiring four years ago was solidly behind Mirkarimi.
After the election, held during the 81st Annual Winter Training Conference in Albany, Voutour was sworn in by Thomas Beilein, Chairman of the NYS Commission of Correction, and former Niagara County Sheriff, whom Voutour served under as his Chief Deputy during Beilein's tenure as Niagara County Sheriff.