Riding in limousines is not how I roll. And I’m completely OK with that. But as a limo rolled by me on the interstate the other day, something caught my eye: the word livery on the license plate. When I think of livery, I think of carriages and footmen and, perhaps, stables.* I see this:
I didn’t realize that livery has lived on into the modern world. And not just like this:
Livery on a license plate indicates a livery vehicle: one, like a taxi or limo, that is for hire (complete with a driver). Additionally, like the livery associated with horse-drawn carriages of old, a vehicle’s livery is the color scheme or logo that identifies it as being associated with a particular company. The checkerboard trim on a Checker Taxi was a famous and enduring part of its livery. The brown color of a UPS truck is part of its livery. Frontier Airlines incorporates wildlife photography into the livery of its planes.
Frontier’s Ozzy the Orca is as far from the footmen uniforms and livery accoutrements of past centuries as modern limousines are from the horses and carriages for hire in days past, but the connections are clear. And having the opportunity to daydream about those connections kept me from minding so much that Mr. Livery Plates seemed unconcerned about the speed limit or the modern-day principles of merging traffic.
*Though we generally call them boarding stables in the United States, stables where horse owners can rent care and keep for their horses are often called livery yards or livery stables in Great Britain and Ireland.
Sources consulted include Merriam-Webster Collegiate and Unabridged dictionaries, Wikipedia, Frontier Airlines, Online Etymology Dictionary, livery yard websites, Ohio and Illinois and New York departments of transportation and motor vehicles, and Google News.