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A special uniform worn by a servant, an official, or a member of a City Company. The original sense was ‘the dispensing of food, provisions, or clothing to servants’, and the sense of a special uniform arose because medieval nobles provided matching clothes to distinguish their own servants from those of others.

livery company in the UK, any of the London City companies, which formerly had distinctive costumes. Descended from medieval craft guilds, the companies are now largely social and charitable organizations; none is now a trading company, though some still have some involvement with the operation of their original trade; several support public schools (e.g. Merchant Taylors, Haberdashers), and collectively they are involved in various forms of technical education. A member of such a company is known as a liveryman.

Subjects: Shakespeare Studies and Criticism.

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