[ mawr-ter-bawrd, -bohrd ]
/ ˈmɔr tərˌbɔrd, -ˌboʊrd /


a board, usually square, used by masons to hold mortar.
Also called cap. a cap with a close-fitting crown surmounted by a stiff, flat, square piece from which a tassel hangs, worn as part of academic costume.

Origin of mortarboard

First recorded in 1850–55; mortar2 + board Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for mortarboard

  • Backstage earlier, McCaskill had given me tips on how to bobby pin the mortarboard cap to my head.

  • As for the mortarboard and gown, undergraduate opinion rather requires that they be left behind.

  • Mr. Worthington pushed back his mortarboard and revealed the crimson chevron which it had bitten into his bald brow.

    Rest Harrow|Maurice Hewlett
  • A right instinct sent him tiptoe over his lawn, another made him doff his mortarboard.

    Rest Harrow|Maurice Hewlett

British Dictionary definitions for mortarboard

/ (ˈmɔːtəˌbɔːd) /


a black tasselled academic cap with a flat square top covered with cloth
Also called: hawk a small square board with a handle on the underside for carrying mortar
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