[ mawr-ter-bawrd, -bohrd ]

  1. a board, usually square, used by masons to hold mortar.

  2. 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

Words Nearby mortarboard Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use mortarboard in a sentence

  • The ceremony at Georgetown University on Wednesday opened with the familiar strains of “Pomp and Circumstance” as graduates, wearing robes and mortarboards with tassels, filed into the auditorium.

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

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

    An American at Oxford | John Corbin

British Dictionary definitions for mortarboard


/ (ˈmɔːtəˌbɔːd) /

  1. a black tasselled academic cap with a flat square top covered with cloth

  2. 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