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c.1300, "household allowance of any kind (food, provisions, clothing) to retainers or servants," from Anglo-French livere (late 13c.), Old French livrée, "allowance, ration, pay," originally "(clothes) delivered by a master to his retinue," from fem. past participle of livrer "to dispense, deliver, hand over," from Latin liberare (see liberate). The sense later was reduced to "servants' rations" and "provender for horses" (mid-15c.). The former led to the meaning "distinctive clothing given to servants" (early 14c.); the latter now is obsolete except in livery stable (1705). Related: Liveried.
any of various craft or trade associations of the City of London, Eng., most of which are descended from medieval guilds. Certain grades of members are privileged to wear a special "livery," or distinctive clothing in the form of a fur-trimmed gown.