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Originally, a university bachelor's degree; now (since 1970), an examination intended to qualify successful candidates for higher education. The word comes (in the mid 17th century) from French baccalauréat or medieval Latin baccalaureatus, from baccalaureus ‘bachelor’. The earlier form baccalarius was altered by wordplay to conform with bacca lauri ‘laurel berry’, because of the laurels awarded to scholars.

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