mid-14c., also simply coat (mid-14c.); originally a tunic embroidered or painted with heraldic armorial bearings (worn over armor, etc); see coat (n.) + arm (n.2) and compare Old French cote a armer. Sense transferred in Middle English to the heraldic arms themselves. Hence turncoat, one who put his coat on inside-out to hide the badge of his loyalty (1550s).
coat of arms
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