back to Michael Tinkler's homepage

Dated Handlist of Badge Words

A Word List for Late Medieval Badges


My goal here is to explore some of the words used in the later Middle Ages to name a group of objects commonly called badges (and frequently identified as pilgrimage badges even when they might have no pilgrimage context) by modern art historians. I hope that looking at the words in their contexts will help us understand these objects better. I would also like to have a handy word-list to use when attacking concordances.

Why do I find it necessary to go plowing through dictionaries?

These words occur describe everyday objects, and as such can be difficult to separate from other words used to describe buckles and closures and pieces of jewellry.

Then there is the problem of spelling.

English spelling stabilized - more or less - in the 16th and 17th centuries. Before that, anything went. For instance, if you want to check for livery badges in late medieval sources, you need to be ready to check all these forms - and be sure to use wild cards to cover endings in -(e)s and -(e)z:

Forms and dates from the Oxford English Dictionary citations under livery.

Here's a link to the Dated Hand List to speed concordance work (English words, so far).

I'm not being very picky yet. I'm happy to look at words for other items, especially jewellry, because one of my own interests in this object class is thinking of badges as wearable art rather than as evidence for other things.

General Nouns for Things Worn

Medieval badges were small cast metal pieces with an integral pin designed to be worn. The words used to name them may help us understand how they functioned in the contexts in which they were worn and exchanged. A small pin worn on clothing is often but not always visible; though some badges were worn publically, there were other pieces which may have been worn inside or under layered cloth, and that possibility exists for any of them. For instance, objects used to secure clothing are frequently covered by other pieces of clothing; should a badge have been repurposed as a pin used in this fashion it might have disappeared into the invisible realm.

More properly, however, certain kinds of badges may never have been intended to be worn in public but might have been intended from their casting -- or at least initial purchase -- to have been preserved privately or worn inside clothing.

I'd be happy for suggestions! Yes, I'm looking up all the cross references - slowly.

My comments below in red.
If I leave out a definition (that is, show you only #2 of what is a longer list in the OED) I have decided the neglected ones are irrelevant. I'm not very consistent about that - this is a work in progress.

Nouns about badges

agrafe, French

as references Laborde provides: Agrafe: Affixe, Attache, Bille, Broche, Fermail, Feraus, Fermillières, Mors de chape, Nouche
Agrafe de robe - Troussouère

badge, noun, English

OED - 1. A distinctive device, emblem, or mark, used originally to identify a knight or distinguish his followers (= cognizance in Her.), and now worn as a sign of office or licensed employment, as a token of membership in some society, etc., etc.

 c1350 Alexander (St.) 4180 [The fire] tinds on tend lowe trappour of stede..Bages and baners it blemyschid. c1440 Promp. Parv. 20/2 Bage, or bagge of armys, Banidium. ?c1450 MS. Lincoln A i. 17 lf. 141 (Halliw.) He beris of golde a semely sighte, His bagges are sabylle ylkane. 1485 CAXTON Paris & V. (1868) 8 Came to the lystes with their badges and tokens. 1530 PALSGR., Badge of a gentylmanla deuise dung seignevr. 1513-75 Diurn. Occurr. (1833) 158 My lord regentis armes and bage. 1618 ROWLANDS Sacr. Mem. 50 The Crosse, which Christians for their badge do weare. 1678 Trans. Crt. Spain 131 To wear a badg that they may beg alms. 1800 COLQUHOUN Comm. Thames xi. 328 They have their names and numbers on a metal Badge. 1879 DIXON Windsor II. xv. 161 She tore the Lancastrian badges from her clothes.

Much as I like the 1879 citation, it's too late to be of much use. One would rather have a Lancastrian or Yorkist badge from the period - but see the next citation.

Henry VI part 1 IV.i.89-107
Crossing the sea from England into France,
This fellow here, with envious carping tongue,
Upbraided me about the rose I wear;
Saying, the sanguine colour of the leaves
Did represent my master's blushing cheeks,
When stubbornly he did repugn the truth
About a certain question in the law
Argued betwixt the Duke of York and him;
With other vile and ignominious terms:
In confutation of which rude reproach
And in defence of my lord's worthiness,
I crave the benefit of law of arms.
And that is my petition, noble lord:
For though he seem with forged quaint conceit
To set a gloss upon his bold intent,
Yet know, my lord, I was provoked by him;
And he first took exceptions at this badge,
Pronouncing that the paleness of this flower
Bewray'd the faintness of my master's heart.

This is a nice one - and my find by running badge through Shakespeare Lookup. It seems to me the roses (red and white) can go either way here - literal roses or painted livery badges. The badges make more sense in the long run.

Henry VI part 2 V.i.198-210
I am resolved to bear a greater storm
Than any thou canst conjure up to-day;
And that I'll write upon thy burgonet,
Might I but know thee by thy household badge.
Now, by my father's badge, old Nevil's crest,
The rampant bear chain'd to the ragged staff,

This day I'll wear aloft my burgonet,
As on a mountain top the cedar shows
That keeps his leaves in spite of any storm,
Even to affright thee with the view thereof.
And from thy burgonet I'll rend thy bear
And tread it under foot with all contempt,
Despite the bear-ward that protects the bear.

The Riverside notes say that the Nevill badge was a bull and that the bear chained to a staff was from his father-in-law, Richard Beauchamp. Shakespeare is playing badge as both the literal and the figurative.

2. gen. A distinguishing ‘sign,’ emblem, token, or symbol of any kind:    a. transf. of things material.

  1526 TINDALE Acts xxviii. 11 Whose badge was Castor and Pollux. 1597 SHAKES. 2 Hen. IV, IV. iii. 113 The Liuer white, and pale; which is the Badge of Pusillanimitie, and Cowardize. 1705 Lond. Gaz. No. 4140/4 The Badges or Marks put on Houses Insured by the Friendly Society. 1774 J. BRYANT Mythol. I. 62 A brazier of live coals carried before him as a badge of his office. 1872 FREEMAN Norm. Conq. IV. xviii. 104 The fortresses, the special badges of foreign rule.

    b. fig. of things immaterial.

  1529 MORE Supplic. Soules Wks. 314/1 The deuils badge we meane of malice & of a very deadli deuilish hate. 1596 SHAKES. Merch. V. I. i. 111 For suffrance is the badge of all our Tribe. 1719 W. WOOD Surv. Trade 295 Monopolies, the Badges of a slavish People. 1868 M. PATTISON Academ. Org. §6. 237 The degrees have become social badges. 1875 STUBBS Const. Hist. I. vii. 167 The possession of land has become the badge of freedom.

These are, I suppose, "immaterial."

4. Comb., as badge-ticket; badge-man, one who wears a badge, a licensed beggar or almsman; also, spec. an official porter.

1790 BURKE Fr. Rev. Wks. V. 352 No man ever..will glory in belonging to the Chequer No. 71, or to any other badge-ticket. 1804 W. COOKE Mem. Charles Macklin 11 After being some time in Dublin, he got settled as a badge-man in Trinity College. 1809 CRABBE Tales 16 With thickset coat of Badge-man's blue. 1904 Daily Chron. 30 July 7/7 They deprive the licensed porters, or ‘badge’ men..of work.

This is a useful, if late, usage - people are wearing badges as a sign of office.

bagea, bagia, noun, Latin - du Cange

Signum, Insign, quoddam.

Rymer. tom. 14. pag. 764: Et eiusdem septuaginta hominibus dare possit septuaginat liberatas pannae laniae, vel signa seu Bagias cuicumque, qui de ipso recipere voluerit easdem liberatas, signa et Bagias ad ipsum serviendum. idem tom. 15. pag. 499: Statutorum de liberaturis signis et Bageis. Vide Bagagium ubi legitur: Cum armaturis, Bogeis: hic Bogea idem videtur quod Bagea.

bagia, ~ea [ME bage], Dictionary of Medieval Latin from British Sources

badge (her[aldry].)

c1370 qui utitur tali colore in vestibus vel bagis suis (J. Bridl. gl.) Pol. Poems I 185; c1420 pro ij sellis vapulatis de armis et ~eis regis KRAc407/5 m. 3; ista signa. .regia . . non sunt sua arma vel ~ia set solummodo liberate Upton 35; s1485 cosideratis signis et bagis hodierni victoris atque victi Croyl. Cont. C 575; 1542 qui de ipso recipere voluerit eadem +libertates [l. liberatas] signa vel ~ias ad ipsum serviendum (Pat 710 Foed. XIV 764.

Note that the DMLBS limits to heraldry!

bageta, noun, Latin, Dictionary of Medieval Latin from British Sources

small badge.

1397 tapiestre work cum armis et baget' predicti comitis IMisc 266/11.

The cum armis looks like bageta might be heraldic, too.

broche, French

1. irrelevant for this - Pointe pour séparer les cheveux (voyez Gravouère),
2. Peteit agrafe dont l'ardillon mobile n'est pas retenu, comme dans la fibule en forme de corde d'arc, par sa tension et le crochet qui se trouve au côté opposé de sa charnière. La broche a souvent la forme d'un anneau et porte une devise émaillée ou gravée. Le dessin servira miuex qu'un commentaire à établir ou à maintenir la distinction qu'on a faite, au moyen âge, entre les différents genres d'agrafes.

n. f. (XIIe s.; du lat. pop. broccha, sailant, pointu). Nom donné a plusiers objets à tige pointue.

I have always seen the hair-parting tool called a gravoir in modern French sources.

brooch, English - OED

  1. An ornamental fastening, consisting of a safety pin, with the clasping part fashioned into a ring, boss, shield, or other device of precious metal or other material, artistically wrought, set with jewels, etc. (Cf. Fr. broche, ‘grosse épingle à l'usage des femmes’. Littré.) Now used mainly as a (female) ornament, but always for the ostensible purpose of fastening some part of the dress.

 a1225 Ancr. R. 420 Ring ne broche nabbe e. c1385 CHAUCER L.G.W. 1273 Send hire letters, tokens, brooches, and rynges. ?a1400 Morte Arthure 3257 Rebanes of golde, Bruchez and besauntez and oer bryghte stonys. 1413 LYDG. Pylgr. Sowle IV. xxxiii. (1483) 81 An ouche or a broche. 1530 PALSGR. 201/1 Broche for ones cappe, broche. Broche with a scripture, deuise. 1551 ROBINSON tr. More's Utop. (1869) 102 With brouches and aglettes of gold vpon their cappes, which glistered ful of peerles and precious stones. 1588 SHAKES. L.L.L. V. ii. 620 S. Georges halfe cheeke in a brooch. 1720 Stow's Surv. (ed. Strype 1754) II. V. viii. 248/1 Henry VIII..wore a round flat cap..with a Bruch or Jewel and a feather. 1776 PENNANT Tour Scotl. II. 14 At the same time [Bruce] lost his mantle and brotche. 1877 L. JEWITT Half-hrs. among Eng. Antiq. 223 The fibula in Norman times was more like an ornamental circle of jewels and stones, with a central pin; and its name ‘brooch’ is derived from this article, and its resemblance to a spit.

The citation referring to hat brooches makes it clear that this is on the right track.

Henry V iv.vii.97-103.
FLUELLEN: Your majesty says very true: if your majesties is remembered of it, the Welshmen did good service in a garden where leeks did grow, wearing leeks in their Monmouth caps; which, your majesty know, to this hour is an honourable badge of the service; and I do believe your majesty takes no scorn to wear the leek upon Saint Tavy's day.

The famous leeks-in-the-hat can just as easily be a badge or brooch as a real leek.

OED 2. Formerly also in a more general sense: according to Johnson ‘a jewel, an ornament of jewels’. In earlier times applied to a necklace, a bracelet, and other trinkets. Obs.

 1382 WYCLIF Song Sol. i. 9 Faire ben thi cheekes, as of a turtil; thi necke as brooches. c1440 Promp. Parv. 52 Broche, juelle..monile, armilla. 1483 Cath. Angl. 45 A Broche, firmaculum, monile. 1533 BELLENDEN Livy I. (1822) 22 The Sabinis had goldin brochis of grete wecht apoun thair left arme. 1552 HULOET, Brouche or small cheyn, whiche gentlewemen do weare about their neckes. 1621 BURTON Anat. Mel. III. ii. III. iii, About her tender neck were costly bruches. 1676 BULLOKAR, Brouch, a kind of Jewel to wear appendant to a Chain.


    b. fig.; cf. gem, jewel. Obs.

  1460 J. CAPGRAVE Chron. VI. (1858) 122 [Ethelthredus] wedded Emme, cleped ‘The broche of Normandie’. 1528 MORE Heresyes III. (1529) lxxxviii. b, It wolde be a goodly brooche for vs to loke on our owne fawltys another whyle. 1602 SHAKES. Ham. IV. vii. 94 He is the Brooch indeed, And Iemme of all our Nation. 1625 B. JONSON Staple News III. ii, Who is The very Broch o' the Bench, Gem o' the City.

Further confirmation of the overlap between badge and brooch

3. ‘A painting all in one colour’. Obs. (Only in Dictionaries.)  

  1706 in PHILLIPS. Hence in BAILEY, JOHNSON, etc.

A dictionary word - one of those that has no real existence!

    4. Comb., as brooch-maker.

  c1450 Voc. in Wr.-Wülcker 583 Firmacularius, a brouche-makere. c1500 Cocke Lorell's B. (1843) 9 Laten workers, and broche makers. 1530 PALSGR. 201/2 Broche maker, bambelottier.  

This is a helpful citation, because laten / latten is a useful medieval term for the copper alloy material of brooches and buckles recovered in London (Egan and Pritchard, 16).

cockle-shell, English - OED

    1. The shell of the cockle; usually, a single valve of the shell. Formerly applied much more generally, including e.g. the scallop-shell worn by pilgrims to St. James of Compostella.

  c1420 Pallad. on Husb. I. 904 With cokille shelles brente. 1530 PALSGR. 206/2 Cokell shell, coquille. a1631 DRAYTON Noah's Flood (R.), The ark..doth so excell That ship, as that ship doth a cockle-shell. a1711 KEN Hymnar. Poet. Wks. 1721 II. 71 They might more easily contain In Cockle-shell the whole Atlantick Main. 1747 WESLEY Prim. Physic (1762) 104 A pound of fresh calcined Cockle Shells. 1758 R. BROOKES Gen. Pract. Physic (ed. 3) II. 8 Let the patient..drink.. Oister or Cockle-shell Lime-Water. 1877 BLADES Pref. to Caxton's Dict. ix, Wearers of the Cockle-shell, the emblems of a pilgrimage to Compostella. 1884 LOVELL Edible Brit. Mollusca 44 Cockle-shells are used as cultch for the oyster spat to adhere to..The great advantage of cockle-shells cultch is, etc.

Hmm. The citation the OED gives for Compostella is 1877.

    2. An imitation of a cockle or scallop-shell, e.g. in the collar of the order of St. Michael.

  1488 in Tytler Hist. Scot. (1864) II. 393 A collar of cokkilschellis contenand xxiiii schellis of gold.  

Ahah - here's one! The 2nd definition (as per usual) is more figurative, and our metal cockleshells should indeed be covered here. "24 schellis of gold!"

Hence cockle-shelled, adjective  

adorned with a cockle-shell; having a cockle-shell as a badge.

  1635 R. N. Camden's Hist. Eliz. I. 66 The Ensignes of the Cockle-shelled Order of Saint Michael.  

We'll make an adjective out of just anything in English.

cognizance, English - OED

 I. Knowledge, etc.
  II. Legal senses.
  III. 5. A device or mark by which a person, company, etc., is known or distinguished, as a crest, heraldic bearing, coat of arms, etc.; a badge; spec. in Her. a device or emblem borne for distinction by all the retainers of a noble house, whether they bore ‘arms’ or not; see quot. 1766. (The chief sense in ME., and still frequent.)  

  c1350 Will. Palerne 3569 if i encountre with is schal i him knowe what konichauns here he bere? 1393 LANGL. P. Pl. C. XIX. 188 What is hus conysaunce, quath ich, in hus cote-armure? 1494 FABYAN III. liv. 35 Aruiragus hastely causyd hym to be Armed with the cognisaunce of the kynge. 1568 GRAFTON Chron. II. 650 He gave the Sunne in his full brightnesse for his Cognisaunce or Badge. 1603 KNOLLES Hist. Turks (1621) 118 Lewis..tooke upon him the crosse, the cognisance of the sacred warre. 1766-87 PORNY Heraldry Gloss. s.v., Cognisances were badges which subordinate officers, and even soldiers did bare on their Shields, for distinction sake, being not entitled to a Crest. 1808 SCOTT Marm. VI. ii, In the chief three mullets stood, The cognizance of Douglas Blood. 1864 BOUTELL Heraldry xix. 303 The motive that induced Geoffrey of Anjou to assume as his cognizance the Sprig of Broom.

Mainly heraldic, but on topic for thinking about worn art. I'm grateful for "The chief sense in ME."

   b. fig. Badge, emblem, mark, token.  

  c1400 Test. Love I. (1560) 276b/2 Meekeness in countenaunce, with a manly the conisance of my livery. 1584 G. WHETSTONES in Mirr. Mag. 13b, Receyve of us the possession thereof, as a cognisance of our loue. 1633 BP. HALL Hard Texts 464, I did give them my Sabaths, as a special cognizance of my people. 1682 SIR T. BROWNE Chr. Mor. (1756) 45 If generous honesty, valour, and plain dealing, be the cognisance of thy family.

Ahah! A figurative badge! But note the "conisance of my livery" - see livery below.

coquille de Saint Jacques, noun, French - Laborde

Cet attribut de saint Jacques de Compostelle et de saint Sebald a été adopté par les pèlerins. J'ignore quel usage a pu avoir la coquille mentionée dans la citation suivante. Etait-ce une relique?

(A) 1467. Une coquille noire, de saint Jaques, garnie d'or et ung boton de perles au bout. (Ducs de Bourgogne, 3165.)

coquille - Robert (XIIIe s.; croisement de coque avec le lat. conchylium; gr. kogkhulion).
I. 2o - Par ext. Valve d'une coquille. Boire dans une coquille. La coquille de Diogène. Coquille de pèlerin.

"A Notre-Dame de Lorette
J'ai promis, dans mon noir chagrin,
D'attacher sur ma gorgerette. . .
Les coquilles du pèlerin." (Hugo, Ballade, VI, Fiançc du timbal)

I.3o Coquille St-Jacques: mollusque du genre peigne appelé ainsi parce que les pèlerins de St-Jacques-de-Compostelle en fixaient les coquilles à leur chapeau, usage qui fut imité par ceux du mont St-Michel.

Note the St-Michel appropriation of the Cockleshell

enseigne, noun, French - Robert - (Xe s.; lat insignia, p. n. devenu fém., de insignis, remarquable. V. Insigne).


3o Signe de ralliement pour des troupes . . . etc.

Robert never mentions pilgrims, but I'm beginning to think he's a tad anticlerical.

Insigne, noun, masc, French - Robert - (1484, au plur.; rar. jusqu'en 1821; lat. insignia, pl. n. de insignis. V. Enseigne).

Marque extérieure et distinctive d'une dignité, d'une fonction, d'un grade. V. Emblème, marque, signe, symbole. Les insignes de la royauté . . . V. Decoration, médaille Insignes de la Légion d'honneur. Député, maire, maréchal revêtu de ses insignes (V. écharpe)


2. Insigne. n. m. Marque extérieure et distinctive d'une dignité, d'une fonction, d'un grade. V. Emblème, marque, signe, symbole. Les insignes de la royauté . . . V. Decoration, médaille Insignes de la Légion d'honneur. Député, maire, maréchal revêtu de ses insignes (V. écharpe). . . . .

insignia, Latin

Patrologia Latina 27. Vol. 190 - Henricus Croilandiae / Rogerius Croilandiae:
SANCTI THOMAE CANTUARIENSIS ARCHIEPISCOPI ET MARTYRIS VITA OCTAVA. Auctoribus Henrico abbate et Rogerio monacho Croilandiae.
Found 1 hit:
CONCLUSIO OPERIS. ampullis stanneis per universum orbem portabatur; factumque est quasi insigne peregrinorum beati Thomae ut unus quisque ampullam suam reportaret.

This refers to a tin container (ampulla) for bringing Canterbury water home, which might even have been a badge-mounted ampulla.

livery, English - OED

1. a. The dispensing of food, provisions, or clothing (cf. 2) to retainers or servants; hence gen., provision, allowance.    b. The food or provisions so dispensed; an allowance or ration of food served out. Now Hist.

  a1300 Cursor M. 2122 e thrid on is side e greckes see, was Iaphet giuen til his liuere. Ibid. 19220 Wit am i mai ha mete and drinc, Mi liuere haf wit-vten suinc. c1330 R. BRUNNE Chron. (1810) 146 To London forto com, whan parlement suld be,..and tak er his liuere. 13.. Test. Christi 376 (MS. Harl. 2382) in Archiv Stud. neu. Spr. LXXIX. 431 A cote-armur..the which y toke of thy lyuere. 1375 BARBOUR Bruce XIV. 233 Tharfor he maid of vyne lufre [MS. E. levere, ed. 1616 lewerie] Till ilk man. 1399 Rolls of Parlt. III. 452/1 That thei..gyf no Liverees of Sygnes, no make no Retenue of men. 1399 LANGL. Rich. Redeles II. 2 Moche now me merueileth..Of oure large leuerey to leodis aboute. 1422 tr. Secreta Secret., Priv. Priv. 133 Syr Stewyn Serope..Hauynge the gouernaunce of Irlande, many extorcionys did, Lyuerez takynge. c1450 Bk. Curtasye 371 in Babees Bk., Lyueray he hase of mete and drynke, And settis with hym who so hym thynke. Ibid. 839 Of candel liueray squiyers schalle haue. a1483 Liber Niger in S. Pegge Cur. Misc. (1782) 79 Taking every of them, for his livery at night, half a chet loaf, one quart of wine, one gallon of ale; and for winter livery, from All-Hallowtide till Easter, one percher wax, one candle wax [etc.]. c1492 Gest R. Hode clxi. in Child Ballads III. 64/1 There he made large lyueray, Bothe of ale and of wyne. 1573 Satir. Poems Reform. xlii. 409 e ar far large of Leueray. 1596 SPENSER State Irel. Wks. (Globe) 623/2 In great howses, the liverye is sayd to be served up for all night, that is theyr nyghtes allowaunce for drinke. 1639 DAVENPORT New Trick to Cheat Devil I, [Stage-direction. Ent. with Wine, Chan.] Chan. I have brought your Livery. 1670 BROOKS Wks. (1867) VI. 47 They serve God for a livery, for loaves, and not for love. 1707 CHAMBERLAYNE St. Gt. Brit. II. x. 140 To whom [the Lord Great Chamberlain] belongs Livery and Lodging in the Kings Court. 1861 Our Eng. Home 81 The butler..dispensed the stores to the cook, and gave out the rations or liveries of meat, wine, and beer. 1875 STUBBS Const. Hist. III. xxi. 531.

Note especially clothing - remember how expensive a matching set of clothing would have been.

  fig. 1633 FORD Broken H. IV. i, Great (faire one) grace my hopes with any instance Of Liuery, from the allowance of your fauour, This little sparke. [mod. ed. Attempts to take a ring from her finger.] 1643 SIR T. BROWNE Relig. Med. I. §47, I found upon a naturall inclination, and inbred loyalty unto vertue, that I could serve her without a livery.

Note that Ford uses a ring for livery. There are further meanings involving food and quartering.

  2. a. A suit of clothes, formerly sometimes a badge or cognizance (e.g. a collar or hood), bestowed by a person upon his retainers or servants and serving as a token by which they may be recognized; in wider sense, a distinctive badge or suit worn by a servant or official, a member of a company, etc.; formerly, the uniform of a soldier or sailor. In generalized use, the distinctive uniform style of dress worn by a person's servants, etc. (now only men-servants). in livery: wearing a particular livery. out of livery: (of a servant) not dressed in livery; wearing plain clothes. In early use also, a set of distinctive badges or suits; in first quot. = garments, clothes.

13.. E.E. Allit. P. A. 1107 And alle in sute her liurez wasse. 1375 BARBOUR Bruce XIX. 36 Thre hundreth and sexte had he Of squyeris, cled in his liverye. c1386 CHAUCER Prol. 363 An haberdasshere and a Carpenter, A Webbe, a Dyere, and a Tapycer, And they were clothed in o lyueree Of a solempne and a greet fraternitee. 1389 in Eng. Gilds (1870) 21 Ye bretheren and sisteren of yis gilde..shul han a lyueree of hodes in suyte. 1399 LANGL. Rich. Redeles II. 79 That no manere meyntenour shulde merkis bere, Ne haue lordis leuere e lawe to apeire. c1440 Gesta Rom. xv. 51 (Add. MS.), xlti knyghtes of oone leveraye. 1463 Bury Wills (Camden) 41 Bothe my colers of silvir, the kyng's lyfre. 1473 J. WARKWORTH Chron. (Camden) 14 He..wered ane estryche feder, Prynce Edwardes lyvery. 1480 Wardr. Acc. Edw. IV (1830) 124 A gowne and a hoode of the liveree of the Garter for the Duke de Ferrare. 1485 CAXTON Paris & V. 14 Every baron gaf hys lyverey that they shold be knowen eche fro other. 1522 WRIOTHESLEY Chron. (1875) I. 13 The kinge and he ridinge both together in one liverey. a1548 HALL Chron., Hen. VI, 173b, The erle perceiving by the livery of the souldiors, that he was circumvented. ?a1550 in Dunbar's Poems (1893) 319 e noble merchandis..Address ow furth..In lusty grene lufraye. a1592 GREENE Geo. a Greene (1599) F1b, Two liueries will I giue thee euerie yeere, And fortie crownes shall be thy fee. 1622 BACON Hen. VII 58 Liveries, tokens, and other badges of factious dependance. 1631 HEYWOOD Lond. Jus Hon. Wks. 1874 IV. 273 All this goodly their City Liveries. 1671 MILTON Samson 1616 Immediately Was Samson as a public servant brought, In thir state Livery clad. 1684 in Scott. Antiq. XV. 18 Skulking and vagrant persons who have hitherto imitated the livery of the king's sojors. 1707 FARQUHAR Beaux Strat. III. i. 23 What sort of Livery has the Footman? 1710 Lond. Gaz. No. 4710/4 Deserted.., John Stephens, a Serjeant,..having his Serjeant's Livery on. 1814 MRS. J. WEST Alicia de Lacy III. 113 Disguised in the livery of a trooper. 1841 LYTTON Nt. & Morn. I. i, A Servant out of livery leaped from the box. 1863 KINGLAKE Crimea (1876) I. ii. 28 Hunting the country in the livery of the Salisbury Hunt. 1875 STUBBS Const. Hist. II. xvii. 610 The king out of compliment wore the livery of the duke of Lancaster. 1900 Blackw. Mag. Dec. 862/2 Servants in claret and yellow livery noiselessly served wine.

 BETA  1512 HEN. VIII To Earl Shrewsbury in Rymer Foedera (1710) XIII. 338 Badges, Tokens or Lyvers to Were. 1660 tr. Amyraldus' Treat. conc. Relig. III. i. 303 To wear the liver of an enemy to one's King.

The ostrich feather (1473), royal livery. 1622, getting a little late, but a nice one.

b. transf. and fig.

?c1325 Earth ix. in E.E.P. (1862) 151 Whan er maki is liuerei he graui vs in grene. 1412-20 LYDG. Chron. Troy II. xiii, When that Flora..Hath euery playne, medowe, hil and vale.. clad in lyuery newe. 1494 FABYAN Chron. VI. clxxxii. 180 That Rollo shuld..take vpon hym the lyuerey of Cristes baptym. 1563 Homilies II. Rogation Week IV. (1859) 495 Love and charity, which is the only livery of a Christian man. 1590 SHAKES. Mids. N. II. i. 113 The childing Autumne, angry Winter change Their wonted Liueries. 1611 COTGR., Liripipionné,..faithfull to the pot, and therefore bearing the red-faced liuerie therof. 1661 BOYLE Style of Script. (1675) 192 White (the livery of innocence). 1667 MILTON P.L. IV. 599 Now..Twilight gray Had in her sober Livery all things clad. 1697 DRYDEN Virg. Georg. III. 665 A Snake..has cast his Slough aside, And in his Summer Liv'ry rouls along. 1722 WOLLASTON Relig. Nat. v. 96 Trees receive annually their peculiar liveries, and bear their proper fruits. 1734 BERKELEY Analyst §1 Wks. 1871 III. 258 Clothing themselves in the livery of other men's opinions. 1797-1804 T. BEWICK Brit. Birds (1847) II. 112 The females may be seen in the livery either complete or partial, of the past Season. 1813 SCOTT Rokeby I. i, Sorrow's livery dims the air. 1835 THIRLWALL Greece I. viii. 311 The rustic garb, which was the livery of his servitude.

c. An emblem, device, or distinctive colour on a vehicle, product, etc., indicating its owner or manufacturer.

1938 H. A. VALLANCE Highland Railway xiv. 155 He introduced on the Highland Railway the style of painting which was afterwards so well-known on the south coast. Passenger engines were painted yellow... For goods engines a dark green livery was adopted. 1966 J. THOMAS Callander & Oban Railway x. 169 The Caledonian 2-4-2 tanks..had the plain conical chimney..and the Prussian-blue passenger livery then standard on the line. 1970 Guardian 27 July 16/2 The Antonovs [sc. planes] are painted battleship grey, with red hammer and sickle emblems, not the normal livery of Aeroflot passenger aircraft. 1972 Times 13 Oct. 17/7 London Transport's intention can be simply stated. It is that the livery of the bus fleet will remain red, with a very strictly limited number offered to advertisers for all-over painted designs. 1973 Times 1 Dec. 17/7 As the designers responsible for the BEA livery we were invited, along with two other design groups, to make proposals for ‘British Airways’. 1974 P. LOVESEY Invitation to Dynamite Party ii. 22 An enormous express locomotive painted in the brilliant golden ochre and dark olive green livery of the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway Company.

The modern usage (earliest citation, 1938) transfers the ancient usage to inanimate objects to show ownership.

  3. collect. sing.    a. Retainers or servants in livery. Also occas. a liveried servant. ? Obs.

1413 Pilgr. Sowle (Caxton 1483) V. xiii. 104 In these ryall festes the kyng yeueth his leuery ful ryche and ryal robes. a1577 SIR T. SMITH Commw. Eng. (1609) 106 First of retainers, that no man should haue aboue a number in his Liuery or retinue. 1628 SHIRLEY Witty Fair One I. ii. (1633), Her Father..rides..With halfe a douzen wholesome Liueries, To whom he gives Christian wages. Ibid. II. ii, My lodging is next to her chambers, it is a confidence in my Master to let his Liuery lye so neere her. 1714 STEELE Lover 11 Mar. (1723) 38 Seeing a Place in the second Row of the Queen's Box kept by Mrs. Lucy's Livery, I placed my self in the Pit directly over against her Footman. 1766 CHESTERFIELD Let. to C'tess Suffolk Nov. (1892) III. 1349 If she is a Mrs. with a surname, she is above the livery, and belongs to the upper servants. 1791-1823 D'ISRAELI Cur. Lit. (1866) 450/2 As cross-humoured as the livery of this day, in their notices of what we now gently call our ‘supplies’.

The animate servants of a master.

b. Used for: Following, faction. (Cf. F. livrée in the sense of ‘party’.) under (a person's) livery: in dependence on him. Obs.

c1477 CAXTON Jason 116b, As to the regarde of Hercules, Theseus [etc.]..they faylled not to be of the lyuereye of Iason. a1548 HALL Chron., Hen. VII 12 To compasse that the duchy of Bryteyne should breuely come vndre their liure and subjeccion. 1613 MILLES tr. Mexia's Treas. Anc. & Mod. Times 722/2 All the other Christians, as Maronites..and others of that Liverie, never used it [circumcision].

The definition that gets us toward political lapel pins.

10. attrib. and Comb.    a. Simple attrib. passing into adj., in various senses:    (a) given as or constituting a livery; intended for servants' use (obs.), as livery arrows, bedstead, bow, feather-bed, meal, towel;    (b) pertaining to, forming part of, or used as a livery, as livery beard, button, cloak (in quot. fig.), cloth, coat, collar, colour, gown, hat, lace, plush, red, suit;    (c) kept at livery or for hire, as livery horse, nag; transf. livery friend, mistress, punk;    (d) wearing a livery, as livery attendant.

1549 Privy Council Acts (1890) II. 350 *Lyverey arrowes, xvc shef. 1599 NASHE Lenten Stuffe Ep. Ded., His patient *liuery attendant. 1641 BROME Joviall Crew IV. i. Wks. 1873 III. 417 All the Servants wear *Livery-Beards. 1610 Althorp MS. in Simpkinson The Washingtons App. p. iv, The Butler's Chamber. Impr. a *leverye bedstead, with a tester of buckram. 1566 Act 8 Eliz. c. 10 §3 Bowes..of the course sorte, called *Livery Bowes. 1590 SIR J. SMYTH Disc. Weapons 19b, All Liueray or warre Bowes. 1848 THACKERAY Bk. Snobs xxxiv, A *livery-button maker. 1599 MARSTON Sco. Villanie 167 Sirra, *liuorie cloake, you lazie slipper slave. 1791 J. LEARMONT Poems 179 Ye gie them wage, board, *livery-claith. 1842 J. BISCHOFF Woollen Manuf. II. 151, I have sold a large quantity of livery cloths for the use of London. 1551 T. WILSON Logike 45b, A *liverie coate garded with velvet. 1575-85 ABP. SANDYS Serm. v. 83 Loue is the Liuerie-coate of Christ. 1820 SCOTT Abbot vi, Showing you it was your Lady's livery-coat which I spared, and not your flesh and blood, Master Roland. 1473 in Ld. Treas. Acc. Scotl. (1877) I. 68 A *leueray colare of the Kingis. 1621 Bury Wills (Camden) 167 Two of the ordinarie *lyverie fetherbedes. a1637 B. JONSON Disc. (1641) 105 They have *Livery-friends, friends of the dish, and of the Spit. 1462 Paston Lett. II. 120, I have but on gowne at Framyngham and an other here, and that is my *levere gowne. 1606 Progr. Jas. I (1828) II. 67 The Companies of London, in their lyverie-gownes and hoodes. 1778 Eng. Gazetteer (ed. 2) s.v. Hartford, The chief bailiff was then allowed by the king 20s. a year for his livery-gown. 1890 Army & Navy Stores Catal. Mar. 1173 *Livery Hat. 1838 H. COLMAN 1st Rep. Agric. Mass. (Mass. Agric. Survey) 17 The number of stage and *livery horses kept in the county cannot fall short of one thousand,..who depend on the purchase of hay. 1865 MRS. CARLYLE Lett. III. 301 Putting Mr. C. to the cost of a livery-horse. 1701 Lond. Gaz. No. 3716/4 Some new Cloth and *Livery-Lace. 1799 J. ROBERTSON Agric. Perth 341 The practise of giving them six and a half bolls of daily becoming more general. These farmers, who keep any married servants, have them all on this establishment of *livery meal. 1623 MASSINGER Dk. Milan IV. ii, He that at euerie stage keeps liuerie Mistresses. 1784 COWPER Tiroc. 901 Wouldst thou with a Gothic hand Pull down the schools..Or throw them up to *liv'ry-nags and grooms? 1851 Illustr. Catal. Gt. Exhib. 1055 *Livery plushes, of various qualities. 1624 MASSINGER Renegado III. ii, His ships, his goods, his *liuery-puncks, confiscate. 1708 Lond. Gaz. No. 4447/4 Their *Livery Red, lin'd and fac'd with Yellow. 1705 Ibid. No. 4162/4 Two *Livery-Suits, of a deep blue. 1888 WARDROP Poems & Sk. 232 John, that livery suit and hat, please. 1582 Wills & Inv. N.C. (Surtees 1860) 46, vij long table towells, and iiij *liveraye towells.

What on earth is a livery beard? See the 1641 citation. I guess that describes a master who made all his servants adopt the same facial hair style.

sign, noun, English

    2. a. A mark or device having some special meaning or import attached to it, or serving to distinguish the thing on which it is put.   Freq. in sign of the cross (cf. CROSS n. 3b).

c1290 S. Eng. Leg. I. 84 Heo made e signe of e croiz. 13.. Cursor M. 6078 (Gött.), On ilk a post..A sine of tau make e er. 1393 LANGL. P. Pl. C. xv. 40 Crist cam and confermede and holy kirke made, And in sond a sygne wrot. c1420 LYDG. Assembly of Gods 1040 Vertew commaundyd euery wyght To pauyse hym vndyr the sygne of the roode. c1440 Pallad. on Husb. XI. 22 Now nede is sette a signe on euery vyne That fertile is, sciouns of hit to take For settyng. 1526 Pilgr. Perf. (W. de W. 1531) 26b, Marked..not onely with the sygne of the crosse in our garmentis,..but also (I trust) with the sygne of tau in our soules. 1560 J. DAUS tr. Sleidane's Comm. 334 With his crosiers staffe [he] maketh the signe of the crosse upon the highest walles. 1653 H. MORE Antid. Ath. II. vi, Observing that several Herbs are marked with some Mark or Sign that intimates their virtue. 1733 BERKELEY Th. Vision Vind. §40 A great number of arbitrary signs, various and opposite, do constitute a Language. 1769 ROBERTSON Chas. V, State Europe Note x, It was usual for persons who could not write, to make the sign of the cross in confirmation of a charter. 1833 N. ARNOTT Physics (ed. 5) II. 236 The common visual signs on the retina..are of all signs the most readily learned or understood. 1884 Cath. Dict. (1897) 258/1 The Church, accustomed to bless everything with the sign of the cross.

I like the 1526 Pilgrim one. Useful.

  3. A mark of attestation (or ownership), written or stamped upon a document, seal, etc. Obs.


1362 LANGL. P. Pl. A. II. 82 e Deede was a-selet, Be siht of sir Symoni and Notaries signes. 1377 Ibid. B. xx. 270, I e were in e Registre, And owre noumbre vndre notaries sygne. c1460 Oseney Reg. 133 The forsaide x. acris..lien in the Northefelde of the foresaide towne with owre syne woonyd i-seeled. 1474 CAXTON Chesse II. i. (1883) 22 Not only her promises but their othes her sealis and wrytynges & signes of their propre handes. 1558 in 10th Rep. Hist. MSS. Comm. App. V. 388 In wittnes hereof we have..set hereunto our signes and common sealle. 1609 BIBLE (Douay) Jer. xxxii. 44 The fieldes..shal be written in a booke, and the signe shal be stamped on, and a witnes shal be taken.

The concept of sealing an owned thing is clearly parallel to livery badges - and the extent to which seals were rings . . . I'm interested.

4. A figure or image; a statue or effigy; an imprint. Obs.


1362 LANGL. P. Pl. A. IV. 112 Bere no seluer ouer see at bere signe of e kyng. 1387 TREVISA Higden (Rolls) I. 229 ere is anoere signe and tokene to fore e popes paleys; an hors of bras and a man sittynge eron. c1440 Pol., Rel., & L. Poems (1903) 152 Ther ys ette a syne of his fote On a marbull stone er as he stode. 1589 WARNER Alb. Eng. VI. xxix. (1602) 143 For often Vprores did ensue for him, as vndeceast, Howbeit solemnely inter'd, himselfe, or Signe at least.

This may be cognate with the French - where signe seems to be a common word for badge.

5.a. A device borne on a banner, shield, etc.; a cognizance or badge. Obs.


 c1290 S. Eng. Leg. I. 158 Ane Croiz, at Man fer isai,.. at was signe of is baner. c1350 Will. Palerne 3213 Swete sire, e me saye what signe is e leuest to haue schape in i scheld to schene armes? 1399 Rolls of Parlt. III. 452 That thei..gyf no Liverees of Sygnes, no make no Retenue of men. c1420 LYDG. Assembly of Gods 355 A garland of yuy he [Bacchus] chase for hys sygne. 1461 Coventry Leet-bk. II. 319 [That they] neyther were ne vse oure most honnorable signe, nor any other lordes or gentilles signe, tokyn or lyuere. 1562 LEGH Armorie 47, I will therfore shewe you of signes yt are borne, and do occupie the same Escocheon.

The parallel, a cognizance or badge - though in a heraldic context as a thing borne. Note the Liverees of Sygnes, too. Hah!

5.b. Something displayed as an emblem or token; esp. an ensign, banner, standard. Obs.


c1400 Song Roland 503 An C thoussand of good men..with proud synes of silk lifte on loft. c1440 York Myst. xvii. 222 Vn-to at Prince I rede we praye, That till vs sente his syngne [sc. the star] vnsoght. 1483 CAXTON Gold. Leg. 305/1 He is had among the companye of Angels as banerer and berynge the signe of oure lord. 1500-20 DUNBAR Poems xxxviii. 4 The signe trivmphall rasit is of the croce. 1596 DALRYMPLE tr. Leslie's Hist. Scotl. II. 300 Monie standarts and syngis..left be the Jnglismen, be the Scotis ar tane. 1667 MILTON P.L. VI. 776 The great Ensign of Messiah blaz'd Aloft by Angels born, his Sign in Heav'n.

The sign can be big and flappy, too.

5.c. spec. A pilgrim's token. Obs.


1362 LANGL. P. Pl. A. VI. 12 An hundred of ampolles on his hat seeten, Signes of Synay and Schelles of Galys. c1400 Beryn 171 Then, as manere & custom is, signes ere ey boute. Ibid. 175, 191.

See token and ampulla

signum, Latin - du Cange

2. SIGNUM, veteres appellabant sigillum 4. SIGNUM, Insigne, Marque d'honneur, nostris. Conc. Hispal. inter Hispan. tom. 4. pag. 12: Nec (clerici) gestant Signa doctorum, sed birreta. Chron. Agnl. Th. IOtterbourne pag. 226: Et ut fidem darent suis fictitiis, detraxit de collis quorumdam Signa Regis, scilicet collaria, de caetero Signum tale minime defendum. Detraxit insuper de brachiis domicellorum Signa crescentium, et abjecit. Hinc *SIGNUM, pro Gentilitium insigne. Literae Caroli V. Reg. Franc. ann. 1366. tom. 4. Ordinat. pag. 676: Qui nuntius seu nuntii, poterunt deferre baculos cum Signis regiis et Universitatis predicte. 5.SIGNUM, Milliare, semeion (GK), in Hist. Miscella in Mauricio Imp. ann. 5: At vero duces exercitus obviam venerunt ei cum bandis, duobus Signis. 9. - a quick compendium of Monk's sign language! 12.SIGNUM, Symbolum seu tessera, ut videtur, quae praebendario datur, ut quot illi competit percipiat.


token, English - OED

1.c.c. An ensign, a standard. (Only OE.)


a1000 Gloss. Prudentius 45 Eal werod ehwyrfedum tacnum [versis signis]..foron. a1000 Ags. Ps. (Spelm.) lxxiii. 6 [lxxiv. 4] Hi asetton tacna heora tacna.

Interesting - yet another word for a flag.

2.a. A sign or mark indicating some quality, or distinguishing one object from others; a characteristic mark.


c1000 ÆLFRIC Gen. iv. 15 God him sealde tacn, æt nan æra..hine ne ofsloe. a1300 Cursor M. 6124 Bot in at huse noght he yode ar he fand taken wit e blode. 1398 TREVISA Barth. De P.R. VI. v. (Bodl. MS.), Whanne childrenne voice chaunge it is a tokene of Puberte. c1400 MANDEVILLE (1839) xxiii. 247 at beren the tokne vpon hire hedes of a mannes foot. 1456 SIR G. HAYE Law Arms (S.T.S.) 281 A maister his werkis had a takyn that his werkis war knawin by. 1557 NORTH Gueuara's Diall Pr. 95 The tokens of a valyant and renowmed captaine are, his woundes and hurtes. 1577 B. GOOGE Heresbach's Husb. III. (1586) 115b, Virgill..doth..describe the tokens of a good Horse. 1814 SCOTT Ld. of Isles VI. xiv, The tokens on his helmet tell The Bruce, my Liege: I know him well. 1822 LAMB Elia Ser. I. Chimney-Sweepers, One unfortunate tokens was discovered to be no chimney-sweeper.

Unfortunately the only heraldic one is Walter Scott!

7. a. A sign arranged or given to indicate a person; a word or material object employed to authenticate a person, message, or communication; a mark giving security to those who possess it; a password.


1377 LANGL. P. Pl. B. XVI. 147 And [Judas] tolde hem a tokne how to knowe with ihesus. c1440 Gesta Rom. xxiii. 80 (Harl. MS.), & told to hir all the prive tokyns at were ysaid bytwene hem two. 1561 in Exch. Rolls Scotl. XIX. 460 Delyverit to Peter Cokburne, quha come with ane takin fra George Symson, the saidis George lettres. 1716 HEARNE Collect. (O.H.S.) V. 189 Admitting no one..but one or two, to whom I had given tokens that I might know when they were at the Door. 1827 ROBERTS Voy. Centr. Amer. 270 It is customary for the King to give any person..travelling specially ‘on King's business’ a token [by which he may be known]. 1840 DICKENS Barn. Rudge lxxi, You bring..some note or token from my uncle.

The 1827 citation must be one of those silver greyhounds?

8.a. A badge worn to indicate service or party.


1472 Coventry Leet Bk. 374 Noo Reteindres, lyuerees, signes ne tokenys of clothing, nor othir wyse be taken, had nor vsed. 1516 Sel. Cas. Star Chamb. (Selden) II. 115 Sworne..that he shall not be receyued ne were any lyuerey or token of or with any lord Gentilman or..other personne foreyn. 15.. Battle of Balrinnes in Maidment Sc. Ball. (1868) I. 253 He that thought not for to blyne His mistres' tockin taks; They kist it first, and set it syne Upone their helms and jackes.

THIS is more like it. "Lyuerey or token."

8.b. pl. Armorial bearings, heraldic arms. Obs.


1562 LEIGH Armorie 28b, In the first inuention of them, they were not called Armes, but Tokens.

Tokens as arms.

9. Something given as an expression of affection, or to be kept as a memorial; a keepsake or present given especially at parting.


c1385 CHAUCER L.G.W. 1273 (Dido) Send hir letres tokens broches and rynges. 1463 Bury Wills (Camden) 36 For a tookne to remembre hire husbond. 1606 SHAKES. Tr. & Cr. I. ii. 306 A token from Troylus. 1722 RAMSAY Three Bonnets III. 62 Accept o' this love-taiken. 1848 DICKENS Dombey v, I must present your friend with some little token.

Love tokens.

10. a. Something given as the symbol and evidence of a right or privilege, upon the presentation of which the right or privilege may be exercised.


1538 ELYOT, Tessera,..a token [ed. 1548 of leade, leather or other thyng] gyuen to people to receyue corne of the kinges almes. 1548 Ibid., Tesseræ nummariæ, tokens geuen to men to receiue a summe of money by. 1552 HULOET, Token geuen vnto people in fayres and markets when they bye cattell..tessera, tesserula.

10.b. spec. A stamped piece of lead or other metal given (originally after confession) as a voucher of fitness to be admitted to the communion: in recent times used in Scotland in connexion with the Presbyterian Communion service, but now generally represented by a ‘communion card’.


1534 in Kitts Churchw. Acc. St. Martin in the Fields 37 Item Receued and gathred for howssellyng tokons in the Churche xiijs vijd. 1583 Churchw. Acc. St. James' in Bristol past & pres. (1881) II. 37 Paid for tokens to deliver to the howselynge people at Easter, vid. 1608 (Feb. 24) Churchw. Acc. St. Martin in the Fields 585 It is ordered That every Communicant, for the generall Communions at Easter, shall the day before Their Receiving, Repaire to the Minister, or Curate, and then and their pay his dueties and take a token, and Restore his Token, at his Comming the next day to the Communion. 1611 COTGR., Marreau, the token of lead, etc., giuen for a remembrance, in Churches, to such as meane to receiue the Communion. 1626 in Swayne Sarum Churchw. Acc. (1896) 184 The Clarke shall deliver out a token for euerye persone that will receyve [the Sacrament]. 1645 Dalgety Sess. Rec. in W. Rose Past. Wk. in Covt. Times vi. (1877) 135 All that wants tokens were forbidden to approoch the table. 1791 BOSWELL Johnson 27 Aug. an. 1773, Her husband was in the church distributing tokens. 1888 BARRIE Auld Licht Idylls iii, Without a token, which was a metal lozenge, no one could take the sacrament. 1896 ‘IAN MACLAREN’ Kate Carnegie, A Moderate, The women had their tokens wrapt in snowy handkerchiefs. Ibid., Domsie went down one side and Drumsheugh the other, collecting the tokens, whose clink, clink in the silver dish was the only sound.

a specifically Protestant use of marked lead objects.






Nouns about other pilgrimage associated objects

bourdon. noun, m., French

(du lat. vulg. burdo, accus. burdonem, dér de burdus, mulet). Long bâton de pèlerin surmonté d'un ornement en forme de pomme.


I wonder why an apple? I've seen badges of pilgrims, but the detail isn't high enough to show an apple.

Last additions, 7/18/07


Michael Tinkler
Houghton House Room 211
Telephone: (315) 781-3489

Dated Handlist of Badge Words

back to Michael Tinkler's homepage