[ lawr-uhl, lor- ]
See synonyms for laurel on
  1. Also called bay, sweet bay . a small European evergreen tree, Laurus nobilis, of the laurel family, having dark, glossy green leaves.: Compare laurel family.

  2. any tree of the genus Laurus.

  1. any of various similar trees or shrubs, as the mountain laurel or the great rhododendron.

  2. the foliage of the laurel as an emblem of victory or distinction.

  3. a branch or wreath of laurel foliage.

  4. Usually laurels. honor won, as for achievement in a field or activity.

verb (used with object),lau·reled, lau·rel·ing or (especially British) lau·relled, lau·rel·ling.
  1. to adorn or wreathe with laurel.

  2. to honor with marks of distinction.

Idioms about laurel

  1. look to one's laurels, to be alert to the possibility of being excelled or surpassed: New developments in the industry are forcing long-established firms to look to their laurels.

  2. rest on one's laurels, to be content with one's past or present honors, achievements, etc.: He retired at the peak of his career and is resting on his laurels.

Origin of laurel

1250–1300; dissimilated variant of Middle English laurer, earlier lorer<Anglo-French; Old French lorier bay tree, equivalent to lor bay, laurel (<Latin laurus) + -ier-ier2; see -er2

Other words for laurel

Other words from laurel

  • un·lau·reled, adjective
  • un·lau·relled, adjective

Words Nearby laurel

Other definitions for Laurel (2 of 2)

[ lawr-uhl, lor- ]

  1. Stan Arthur Stanley Jefferson, 1890–1965, U.S. motion-picture actor and comedian, born in England.

  2. a city in SE Mississippi.

  1. a town in central Maryland.

  2. a female given name. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use laurel in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for laurel


/ (ˈlɒrəl) /

  1. Also called: bay, true laurel any lauraceous tree of the genus Laurus, such as the bay tree (see bay 4) and L. canariensis, of the Canary Islands and Azores

  2. any lauraceous plant

  1. spurge laurel a European thymelaeaceous evergreen shrub, Daphne laureola, with glossy leaves and small green flowers

  2. spotted laurel or Japan laurel an evergreen cornaceous shrub, Aucuba japonica, of S and SE Asia, the female of which has yellow-spotted leaves

  3. (plural) a wreath of true laurel, worn on the head as an emblem of victory or honour in classical times

  4. (plural) honour, distinction, or fame

  5. look to one's laurels to be on guard against one's rivals

  6. rest on one's laurels to be satisfied with distinction won by past achievements and cease to strive for further achievements

verb-rels, -relling or -relled or US -rels, -reling or -reled
  1. (tr) to crown with laurels

Origin of laurel

C13 lorer, from Old French lorier laurel tree, ultimately from Latin laurus

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Other Idioms and Phrases with laurel


see look to one's laurels; rest on one's laurels.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.