[ buh-ret-uh ]
See synonyms for biretta on
  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

First recorded in 1590–1600; from Italian berretta, feminine variant of berretto, from Old Provençal berret, from Medieval Latin birrettum “cap,” equivalent to Late Latin birr(us) “hooded cloak” + -ettum diminutive suffix; apparently by the development: “hooded cloak” to “hood” to “cap”; compare Medieval Latin (circa 800) byrrus “short hood” (cuculla brevis ); see birrus, -et
  • Also ber·ret·ta, bir·ret·ta .

Words Nearby biretta Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use biretta in a sentence

  • 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
  • Then came a large man with bold features and dark complexion, wearing a purple robe edged with red and a red biretta.

    The Eternal City | Hall Caine
  • On our heads we wore a fascinating "biretta," or cap with a tall feather.

    A Tatter of Scarlet | S. R. Crockett
  • Cerini was clad in the black silk soutane of his learned order, with the biretta upon his head.

    The Spell | William Dana Orcutt
  • The pope first invests him with the rochet and red biretta, but there is no formal ceremony.

British Dictionary definitions for biretta



/ (bɪˈrɛtə) /

  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

Origin of biretta

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