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What Is a Graduation Cap Called?

When it comes to graduation day, there are several traditional accessories that students wear to commemorate their academic achievements. One of the most iconic items that come to mind is the graduation cap, also known as the academic cap or mortarboard. So what is a graduation cap called officially? Tassel Depot has the answers for you. 

What Is the Origin of the Graduation Cap?

The graduation cap has its origins in the academic dress of medieval universities. During this time, scholars wore long gowns and hooded cloaks to keep warm in the chilly halls of academia. They also wore soft caps called birettas or pilei, which were similar to the berets of today.

However, in the 14th and 15th centuries, European universities began to adopt a more formal dress code, and the biretta was replaced with a new style of cap. This cap had a flat, square top and was made from a stiff material, such as cardboard or leather. The four corners of the cap were adorned with a tassel or a button, which signified the wearer's academic rank.

Over time, this new style of cap became known as the mortarboard, due to its resemblance to a tool used by bricklayers and masons. The flat top of the cap resembled the flat board used to hold mortar, while the four corners represented the trowel used to spread the mortar.

What Is a Mortarboard?

The term "mortarboard" first appeared in the Oxford English Dictionary in 1850, and it quickly became the standard name for the graduation cap. However, the exact reason for the name is still a matter of debate.

Some scholars believe that the term "mortarboard" comes from the resemblance of the cap to the flat board used by bricklayers and masons. Others suggest that the term is a corruption of the French word "Mortier," which means mortar. According to this theory, the cap was named after the mortar-like mixture of sawdust and resin used to stiffen the cap.

Regardless of its origins, the name "mortarboard" has become synonymous with the graduation cap and is now used interchangeably with the term "academic cap."

The Graduation Cap Today

Today, the graduation cap is an essential part of the academic regalia worn by graduates in the United States and many other countries. The cap is usually made from black felt or velvet, with a stiff board inside the top to give it its distinctive shape. The tassel is usually made from a shiny material, such as silk or rayon, and is attached to a button at the center of the cap.

The tassel itself also has symbolic significance. Traditionally, graduates wear the tassel on the right side of the cap during the ceremony. After receiving their degree, they move the tassel to the left side, symbolizing their transition from student to graduate.

In recent years, there has been a trend towards personalized graduation caps, with students decorating their caps with quotes, images, and other meaningful symbols. Some schools even hold contests for the most creative and unique caps, adding a touch of fun and individuality to the solemnity of the graduation ceremony.

Tassel Depot Has the Graduation Cap You Need!

At Tassel Depot, we understand the importance of graduation day and the role that the graduation cap plays in commemorating this milestone achievement. We hope we were able to answer your question of what is a graduation cap called. That is why we offer a wide selection of high-quality graduation caps and tassels in a variety of colors, ensuring that graduates can choose the perfect cap to match their academic regalia. Our caps are made from durable materials and come in a range of sizes to fit all head sizes comfortably. We also have a variety of honor cords, graduation stoles, and diploma covers to help you complete your attire on the big day.

No need to ask yourself what is a graduation cap called. Whether you call it a graduation cap, academic cap, or mortarboard, this iconic piece of headwear has stood the test of time and remains an enduring symbol of academic achievement. At Tassel Depot, we are proud to be a part of this tradition and to provide graduates with the perfect cap to celebrate their success. Feel free to contact us today for any questions or concerns you may have!