mor·​tar·​board ˈmȯr-tər-ˌbȯrd How to pronounce mortarboard (audio)
plural mortarboards
: an academic cap consisting of a closely fitting headpiece with a broad flat projecting square top
: a square board or platform designed for holding mortar during construction and often measuring about two or three feet (one meter) on each side

Illustration of mortarboard

Illustration of mortarboard
  • mortarboard 1

Examples of mortarboard in a Sentence

The students donned robes and mortarboards for graduation.
Recent Examples on the Web There are no beaming graduates holding their diplomas proudly or throwing their mortarboards into the air. Lily Kuo, Washington Post, 30 June 2023 The princess traded in her usual fascinator for a traditional mortarboard to receive her degree in English and History of Art from Newcastle University. Stephanie Petit, Peoplemag, 23 Mar. 2023 Many traditions have grown up around this transition, including one that mandates the wearing of a flat, square hat: the mortarboard. Melissa Mohr, The Christian Science Monitor, 31 May 2021 Penny placed the mortarboard with a blue and yellow tassel on top of her daughter’s ink-black hair. Los Angeles Times, 3 June 2022 Meza then moved the tassel from one side of Hannah’s mortarboard to the other. Los Angeles Times, 3 June 2022 The ceremony took place quickly as Ebony Miller walked to a table in Indiana University Northwest’s Anderson Library and flipped a blue tassel on a black mortarboard. Carole Carlson,, 9 June 2021 Angela Analoak-Bordenelli beaded forget-me-nots into her mortarboard. Marc Lester, Anchorage Daily News, 15 May 2021 For the East High School graduation Tuesday, Melrose Meneses adorned her mortarboard with the golden sun of the flag of the Philippines. Marc Lester, Anchorage Daily News, 15 May 2021

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'mortarboard.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1761, in the meaning defined at sense 2a

Time Traveler
The first known use of mortarboard was in 1761

Dictionary Entries Near mortarboard

Cite this Entry

“Mortarboard.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


mor·​tar·​board ˈmȯrt-ər-ˌbō(ə)rd How to pronounce mortarboard (audio)
: a board used to hold mortar while it is being applied
: an academic cap with a broad flat square top and tassel that is worn at graduation and other ceremonies
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