From French baccalauréat, from Medieval Latin baccalaureatus, from baccalaureus, an alteration of baccalarius (“young man aspiring to knighthood”), to resemble bacca lauri (“laurel berry”) (the ancient symbol of victory). Compare Bachelor.
During the Renaissance, doctors, upon passing their final examinations, were decorated with berried branches of bay. From this ancient custom derives the French word baccalaureate (from the Latin "bacca," a berry, and "laureus," of laurel), and, by modification, the term "bachelor" in referring to a college degree.
baccalaureate (plural baccalaureates)
- The first or lowest academic degree conferred by universities and colleges; a bachelor degree.
- A high school completion exam and qualification awarded in many countries (e.g. Finland, France, Moldova, Romania), designed to enable students to go on to higher education.
- (US) A farewell address in the form of a sermon delivered to a graduating class.