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noun Roman Catholic Church.
  1. biretta.


or ber·ret·ta, bir·ret·ta

  1. a stiff square cap with three or four upright projecting pieces extending from the center of the top to the edge, worn by ecclesiastics.

Origin of biretta

1590–1600; < Italian berretta, feminine variant of berretto < Old Provençal berret < Medieval Latin birrettum cap, equivalent to Late Latin birr(us) birrus + -ettum -et; apparently by the development: hooded cloak > hood > cap; compare Medieval Latin (circa 800) byrrus short hood (cuculla brevis)
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for berretta

Historical Examples

  • He put on his berretta and left the room, the other men following him.

    A Lost Cause

    Cyril Arthur Edward Ranger Gull

  • Why did you refuse the berretta, and almost at the last moment?

  • The stockings, gloves, skull cap and berretta are of scarlet.


    Mildred Anna Rosalie Tuker

  • The men wear a flat Scotch cap of some bright colour, and call it ‘berretta.’

    Prose Idylls

    Charles Kingsley

  • Berretta in mano non fece mai danno—Cap in hand never harmed any one.

British Dictionary definitions for berretta


  1. a variant spelling of biretta



  1. RC Church a stiff clerical cap having either three or four upright pieces projecting outwards from the centre to the edge: coloured black for priests, purple for bishops, red for cardinals, and white for certain members of religious orders

Word Origin

C16: from Italian berretta, from Old Provençal berret, from Late Latin birrus hooded cape
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for berretta



square cap worn by Catholic clergy, 1590s, from Italian beretta, from Late Latin birrus, birrum "large cloak with hood;" perhaps of Gaulish origin, or from Greek pyrros "flame-colored, yellow."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

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