Nobel laureate

[ (noh-bel) ]
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Definition of Nobel laureate

Someone who has been awarded a Nobel Prize.

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The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


What is a Nobel laureate?

A Nobel laureate is a recipient of the Nobel Prize, an award given annually for outstanding achievement in the fields of physics, chemistry, medicine or physiology, literature, and economics, and for the promotion of peace.

It is widely considered one of the most prestigious awards in these fields. Each specific award is referred to with the name of the field it was awarded in, as in the Nobel Prize in Physics. The Nobel Prize awarded for the promotion of peace is popularly called the Nobel Peace Prize. 

Nobel laureates are chosen by an international committee based in Sweden, with the exception of the peace prize, which is awarded in Oslo by a committee of the Norwegian parliament. They receive a medal and a sizable cash prize.

Nobel laureates are sometimes also called Nobelists, but this is less common.

Example: Marie Curie was the first Nobel laureate to be awarded the Nobel Prize twice.

Where does Nobel laureate come from?

The Nobel Prize is named after its founder, Alfred Nobel, a Swedish chemist, inventor, and entrepreneur who is best remembered for establishing the Nobel Prize and for inventing dynamite (among many other things). He established the prizes in his will to be awarded to “to those who, during the preceding year, have conferred the greatest benefit to humankind.”

The word laureate refers to a person who has been honored for achieving distinction in a particular field or with a particular award. It comes from the Latin laureātus, meaning “crowned with laurel,” referring to the ancient practice of presenting laurel crowns (the kind Caesar is often shown wearing) as an honor.

The Nobel Prizes were established in 1901 but first awarded in 1910. Notable Nobel laureates include Marie Curie (the first Nobel laureate to win twice—for physics in 1903 and for chemistry prize in 1911), Albert Einstein (physics; 1921), Martin Luther King, Jr. (peace; 1964), and Malala Yousafzai (peace; 2014), among many others.

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How is Nobel laureate used in real life?

Nobel laureates are generally regarded as luminaries in their fields. Receiving the Nobel Prize is widely regarded as one of the most prestigious honors in the world.


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Nobel laureates are also sometimes called Nobelists.

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