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Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English livery, liveree, from Anglo-Norman liveree, from Old French livree. Compare modern French livrée.

Alternative forms[edit]


  • (file)
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈlɪ.və.ɹi/
  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈlɪv.ɹi/, /ˈlɪ.və.ɹi/
  • Rhymes: -ɪv(ə)ɹɪ


livery (countable and uncountable, plural liveries)

  1. Any distinctive identifying uniform worn by a group, such as the uniform worn by chauffeurs and male servants.
    • 1847 January – 1848 July, William Makepeace Thackeray, chapter 8, in Vanity Fair [], London: Bradbury and Evans [], published 1848, →OCLC:
      And while the moralist, who is holding forth on the cover ( an accurate portrait of your humble servant), professes to wear neither gown nor bands, but only the very same long-eared livery in which his congregation is arrayed: yet, look you, one is bound to speak the truth as far as one knows it, whether one mounts a cap and bells or a shovel hat; and a deal of disagreeable matter must come out in the course of such an undertaking.
    • 1913, Joseph C[rosby] Lincoln, chapter VII, in Mr. Pratt’s Patients, New York, N.Y., London: D[aniel] Appleton and Company, →OCLC:
      “I don't know how you and the ‘head,’ as you call him, will get on, but I do know that if you call my duds a ‘livery’ again there'll be trouble. It's bad enough to go around togged out like a life saver on a drill day, but I can stand that 'cause I'm paid for it. What I won't stand is to have them togs called a livery. []
    • 1996, Judith M. Bennett, Ale, Beer, and Brewsters in England: Women's Work in a Changing World, 1300-1600:
      By wearing livery, the brewers publicly expressed guild association and solidarity.
    • 2021 April 29, Jamie Jackson, “Edinson Cavani and Bruno Fernandes help Manchester United hit Roma for six”, in The Guardian[1]:
      The 35-year-old must adore this ground as this was his sixth strike in total here: four of these were previously in Manchester City livery, the other in that of Wolfsburg.
  2. The whole body of liverymen, members of livery companies.
  3. The paint scheme of a vehicle or fleet of vehicles.
    The airline's new livery received a mixed reaction from the press.
    • 1961 October, “Car carriage by rail - at home and abroad: 1. New B.R. "covered wagons"”, in Trains Illustrated, page 594:
      The glass fibre body has the advantage of lightness and obviates the need for painting as the material is self-coloured in the standard B.R. maroon livery.
    • 2024 January 13, David Pilling, “Revenge of the moderators”, in FT Weekend, Life & Arts, page 15:
      The roads were jammed with matatu minibuses sporting cartoonish liveries, and trucks billowing black smoke into the dazzling African light.
  4. (US) A taxicab or limousine.
  5. (law) The delivery of property from one owner to the next.
  6. (law) The writ by which property is obtained.
  7. (historical) The rental of horses or carriages; the rental of canoes; the care and/or boarding of horses for money.
  8. (historical) A stable that keeps horses or carriages for rental.
  9. An allowance of food; a ration, as given out to a family, to servants, to horses, etc.
    • 1825, George Cavendish, edited by Samuel Weller Singer, Life of Cardinal Wolsey:
      The emperor's officers every night went through the town from house to house whereat any English gentleman did repast or lodge, and served their liveries for all night: first, the officers brought into the house a cast of fine manchet [white bread], and of silver two great post, and white wine, and sugar.
  10. Release from wardship; deliverance.
  11. A low grade of wool.
  12. Outward markings, fittings or appearance
Derived terms[edit]


livery (third-person singular simple present liveries, present participle liverying, simple past and past participle liveried)

  1. (archaic) To clothe.
    He liveried his servants in the most modest of clothing.

Etymology 2[edit]

From Middle English *livery, from Old English lifriġ (relating to the liver, livery), equivalent to liver +‎ -y.


livery (comparative more livery, superlative most livery)

  1. Like liver.
    • 2004, Anne DesBrisay, Capital Dining: Anne DesBrisay's Guide to Ottawa Restaurants, ECW Press, →ISBN, page 19:
      We are happy for the chopped mushrooms within the warm goose liver paté, for the coarse, highly seasoned wedge has a robust livery flavour the 'shrooms manage to ease.
    • 2010, Christopher Kimball, Fannie's Last Supper: Re-creating One Amazing Meal from Fannie Farmer's 1896 Cookbook, Hachette UK, →ISBN:
      A second test was similar, but we brought the internal temperature up to 130 degrees; the texture was chewy, the meat tasted livery, and had not melted.
    • 2010, Fidel Toldr, Handbook of Meat Processing, John Wiley & Sons, →ISBN, page 35:
      Sulfur-containing compounds (thiols, sulfides, thiazoles, sulfur-substituted furans) can interact with carbonyl compounds to produce a livery flavor.
  2. Queasy, liverish.
    • 1938, Norman Lindsay, Age of Consent, 1st Australian edition, Sydney, N.S.W.: Ure Smith, published 1962, →OCLC, page 204:
      He woke feeling livery, and aware that he had overslept the morning.
    • 2011, Dr Dorothy Shepherd, Homoeopathy For The First Aider, Random House, →ISBN, page 58:
      The biliousness and livery feeling will disappear and the feeling of joy and happiness will be the reward.
    • 2011, Alec Waugh, Fuel for the Flame, A&C Black, →ISBN:
      He felt fresh and buoyant. When he was young, and had taken a siesta, he had felt livery for a couple of hours afterwards, with a tongue like a chicken run
    • 2014, Emily Hahn, China to Me: A Partial Autobiography, Open Road Media, →ISBN:
      To like everyone and to be happy with anyone was a virtue and its own reward, but I realized now that for weeks I had been feeling livery, impatient, restless.