Old English bydel "herald, messenger from an authority, preacher," from Proto-Germanic *budilaz "herald" (source also of Dutch beul, Old High German butil, German Büttel "herald"), from PIE root *bheudh- "be aware, make aware."
Related to Old English beodan "to proclaim" (see bid (v.)). Sense of "warrant officer, tipstaff" was in late Old English; that of "petty parish officer," which has given the job a bad reputation, is from 1590s. French bédeau (Old French bedel, 12c.), Spanish bedel, Italian bidello are Germanic loan-words.
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