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That benefit or safety which the government affords to the citizens. merc. law, The name of a document generally given by notaries public, to sailors and other persons going abroad, in which is certified that the bearer therein named, is a citizen of the United States. Eng. law. A privilege granted by the king to a party to an action, by which he is protected from a judgment which would otherwise be rendered against him. Of these protections there are several kinds.