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coat of arms

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A shield bearing a person or institution's heraldic bearings. The term derives from the linen surcoat worn by medieval knights over their chain mail. Strictly speaking, only the shield itself can be referred to as the coat of arms, though it is often used incorrectly to describe the whole heraldic ensemble of the shield with its adjuncts including crest, motto, and supporters. A coat of arms consists either of a pattern formed by geometrical divisions or of beasts, birds, or other animate or inanimate objects arranged in a particular manner in certain colours.

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