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90s Slang You Should Know


or berretta, birretta

[buh-ret-uh] /bəˈrɛt ə/
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) Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for biretta
Historical Examples
  • The man in the group behind the bishop, who is in surplice and hood and biretta, is probably the archdeacon.

  • The colouring, with its clear reds of the biretta and the robe, is very successful.

    Luca Signorelli Maud Cruttwell
  • He must also provide the Bishop with a horse, gloves, and a biretta when he rides abroad.

    St. Nicholas George H. McKnight
  • On our heads we wore a fascinating "biretta," or cap with a tall feather.

    A Tatter of Scarlet S. R. Crockett
  • Father Sergius straightened his mantle, put on his biretta, and went circumspectly through the crowd.

    Father Sergius Leo Tolstoy
  • The old Norma, straight from biretta's Bookshop, had been pretty in plain serge and shabby fur.

    The Beloved Woman Kathleen Norris
  • We wandered into a large courtyard and to us came a fat priest wearing a biretta.

    Poor Folk in Spain Jan Gordon
  • He sighed, but resigning himself to the inevitable, lifted his biretta as he came up to the door.

    Earl Hubert's Daughter Emily Sarah Holt
  • Father Gray came out of the private chapel of the clergy-house in his cassock and biretta.

    The Hypocrite Cyril Arthur Edward Ranger Gull
  • He persisted in wearing in the house a velvet dressing-gown and a biretta, truly an uncommon head-gear.

    Wagner as I Knew Him Ferdinand Christian Wilhelm Praeger
British Dictionary definitions for biretta


(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
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Word Origin and History for biretta

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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