• synonyms


or ber·ret·ta, bir·ret·ta

See more synonyms for biretta on Thesaurus.com
  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.
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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

Related Words for biretta

helmet, hat, turban, tiara, cap, crown, bonnet, coronet, hood, coiffure, biretta, toque, busby, miter, bandore

Examples from the Web for biretta

Historical Examples of biretta

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

    Luca Signorelli

    Maud Cruttwell

  • On others he wears a cap of a very peculiar character, which has been compared to a biretta, but is really altogether sui generis.

  • 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

  • The old Norma, straight from Biretta's Bookshop, had been pretty in plain serge and shabby fur.

    The Beloved Woman

    Kathleen Norris

British Dictionary definitions for 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
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Word Origin for 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

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."

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper