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Traditionally as a token of a pledge, or a challenge to battle, as in throw down the glove, take up the glove (a glove here is a gauntlet).

A glove as a type of something that fits or suits perfectly is recorded from the late 18th century.

The expressions handle without gloves and take the gloves off, recorded from the early 19th century and meaning, treat without mercy or forbearance, refer to boxing-gloves, and the notion of bare-knuckle fighting as being particularly vicious.

See also a cat in gloves catches no mice, hand in glove, iron hand in a velvet glove.

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