A band worn around the leg to keep up a stocking or sock. The word is recorded from Middle English and comes from Old French, from garet ‘bend of the knee, calf of the leg’, probably of Celtic origin.
The Order of the Garter is the highest order of English knighthood, founded by Edward III c.1344. According to tradition, the garter was that of the Countess of Salisbury, which the king placed on his own leg after it fell off while she was dancing with him. The king's comment to those present, ‘Honi soit qui mal y pense’ (shame be to him who thinks evil of it), was adopted as the motto of the order.
The Garter as the badge of the Order is a ribbon of dark-blue velvet, edged and buckled with gold, and bearing the above words embroidered in gold, and is worn below the left knee; garters also form part of the ornament of the collar worn by the Knights. Presentation is in the sovereign's personal gift.
Garter King of Arms in the UK, the principal King of Arms of the English College of Arms.