a surcoat or tabard embroidered with heraldic devices, worn by medieval knights over their armor.
a heraldic achievement of arms.
the heraldic bearings of a person, family, or corporation
a surcoat decorated with family or personal bearings

mid-14c., originally a tunic embroidered with heraldic arms (worn over armor, etc); see from coat (n.) + arm (n.2) and cf. Old French cote a armer. Sense transferred to the heraldic arms themselves by 1560s. Hence turncoat, one who put his coat on inside-out to hide the badge of his loyalty.


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