poet laureate

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noun, plural poets laureate.
(in Great Britain) a poet appointed for life as an officer of the royal household, formerly expected to write poems in celebration of court and national events.
a poet recognized or acclaimed as the most eminent or representative of a country or locality.
(formerly) a poet whose efforts were officially recognized, as by a sovereign, university, etc.
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Origin of poet laureate

Middle English word dating back to 1350–1400
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What is a poet laureate?

Poet laureate is a title given to a poet in recognition of their poetry. The title originated in Great Britain but in modern times, countries, states, cities, and similar places, including Tribal nations, name poet laureates.

Great Britain’s poet laureate holds the title for the remainder of their life and there is only one poet laureate at a time. They are an officer of the royal family of Great Britain, receiving a salary, although in modern times they no longer have official duties.

The poet laureate of the United States is appointed by the Librarian of Congress and serves a one-year term, promoting poetry nationally. All but five US states have state poets laureate and many cities honor poets this way as well.

Example: The city’s poet laureate has been covering the local unrest in her series of freeform poems.

Where does poet laureate come from?

The first records of the term poet laureate come from the mid-1300s. It combines the word poet, meaning “a person who creates poetry,” and laureate, meaning “a person honored for distinction in a field.”

The first official poet laureate of Great Britain, Ben Jonson, was appointed in 1616. Formerly, poet laureates were expected to write poetry for birthdays or anniversaries of members of the royal family, but Queen Victoria ended that practice in 1843, when she appointed William Wordsworth as poet laureate.

Other notable poet laureates include Geoffrey Chaucer in Great Britain and Robert Frost and Gwendolyn Brooks in the US.

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What are some other forms related to poet laureate?

  • poets laureate (plural)

What are some words that share a root or word element with poet laureate?

What are some words that often get used in discussing poet laureate?

How is poet laureate used in real life?

Poet laureate most often is used to refer to an appointed position.


Try using poet laureate!

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The poet laureate for the United States serves for four years.

How to use poet laureate in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for poet laureate

poet laureate

noun plural poets laureate
British the poet appointed as court poet of Britain who is given a post as an officer of the Royal Household. The first was Ben Jonson in 1616
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

Cultural definitions for poet laureate

poet laureate

The national poet in Britain. Historically, the poet laureate's duty has been to compose official poetry for the king's or queen's birthday and for great public occasions, such as victories in war, coronations, and births and weddings in the royal family. The poets laureate of Britain have included Geoffrey Chaucer, William Wordsworth, and Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

notes for poet laureate

The largely ceremonial position of poet laureate was created in the United States in 1985.
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.