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Borrowed from Italian biretta, berretta. Doublet of beret.
biretta (plural birettas)
- A square cap, originally with four ridges across the top, surmounted by a tuft, worn by Roman Catholic clergy (and by some in the Anglican Church). A three-sided biretta is worn by Roman Catholic clergy for liturgical celebrations.
- 1918, W[illiam] B[abington] Maxwell, chapter X, in The Mirror and the Lamp, Indianapolis, Ind.: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, →OCLC:
- It was a joy to snatch some brief respite, and find himself in the rectory drawing–room. Listening here was as pleasant as talking; just to watch was pleasant. The young priests who lived here wore cassocks and birettas; their faces were fine and mild, yet really strong, like the rector's face; and in their intercourse with him and his wife they seemed to be brothers.