mor·​tar·​board | \ ˈmȯr-tər-ˌbȯrd How to pronounce mortarboard (audio) \

Definition of mortarboard

1 : an academic cap consisting of a closely fitting headpiece with a broad flat projecting square top
b : a board or platform about three feet (one meter) square for holding mortar

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 On May 16, 2016, scores of adoring parents gathered at Franklin Field on the University of Pennsylvania’s campus, beaming as 2,225 undergraduates threw their mortarboards into the air, colorful graduation cords swinging from their necks. Rebecca Tan, Longreads, "Paul Clarke Wants to Live," 3 Sep. 2019 The name combines a lucky color and a lucky number, but that doesn’t help me, or the ladies with matching visors, or the recent grad dressed to the nines and wearing her mortarboard: There’s an hourlong wait. Globe Staff,, "Our food critic ate her way through the Encore Boston casino so you don’t have to," 25 June 2019 You have been instructed to remove the clumsy black mortarboard at this point in the commencement ceremony. Joyce Carol Oates, Harper's magazine, "The Unexpected," 10 May 2019 More and more, Bock has noticed political themes on mortarboards. Rachel Leingang, azcentral, "As students express themselves on caps, commencement formality goes by the (mortar)boards," 11 May 2018 Instead of donning mortarboards to toss in the air, graduates of the Seattle Indian Health Board’s residency program were wrapped in Native songs, blessings and blankets. Bettina Hansen, The Seattle Times, "Seattle Indian Health Board’s residency program celebrates its graduates," 30 June 2018 The Vernon Board of Education voted against allowing Rockville High School graduates to decorate their mortarboards for the school's graduation. Steve Smith, Courant Community, "Board Denies Decorated Mortarboards," 19 June 2018 His tweet, with the hashtag gsu18 and a photo of him with mortarboard atop his white hair, connected with people. Matt Kempner, ajc, "Kempner: How this selfie sensation from Cobb took 49 years to graduate," 14 May 2018 Lake Virtual School graduates will receive their diplomas Thursday night while East Ridge High grads will don their mortarboards Saturday at CFE Arena at UCF, where South Lake’s ceremony also will be held. Rosemarie Dowell,, "Project Graduation returns to Mount Dora High, one year after thieves tried to ruin party," 14 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'mortarboard.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of mortarboard

1761, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about mortarboard

Time Traveler for mortarboard

Time Traveler

The first known use of mortarboard was in 1761

See more words from the same year

Statistics for mortarboard

Cite this Entry

“Mortarboard.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Feb. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for mortarboard


How to pronounce mortarboard (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of mortarboard

: a hat with a flat square top that is worn for special ceremonies at some schools

More from Merriam-Webster on mortarboard

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with mortarboard

Spanish Central: Translation of mortarboard

Comments on mortarboard

What made you want to look up mortarboard? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

More Confusing Words—Quiz

  • cats on impossible timber
  • The magician ______ moved the selected card to the top of the deck.
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!