noun (used with a singular verb)

literary criticism treating of the nature and laws of poetry.
the study of prosody.
a treatise on poetry.
(initial capital letter, italics) a treatise or collection of notes on aesthetics (4th century b.c.) by Aristotle.

Origin of poetics

First recorded in 1720–30; see origin at poetic, -ics



adjective Also po·et·i·cal.

possessing the qualities or charm of poetry: poetic descriptions of nature.
of or relating to a poet or poets.
characteristic of or befitting a poet: poetic feeling; poetic insight.
endowed with the faculty or feeling of a poet: a poetic eulogist.
having or showing the sensibility of a poet: a poetic lover.
of or relating to poetry: poetic literature.
of the nature of or resembling poetry: a poetic composition; poetic drama; poetic imagination.
celebrated in poetry, as a place.
providing a subject for poetry.
of or relating to literature in verse form.


Origin of poetic

1520–30; < Latin poēticus < Greek poiētikós. See poet, -ic
Related formspo·et·i·cal·ly, adverban·ti·po·et·i·cal, adjectivean·ti·po·et·i·cal·ly, adverbnon·po·et·ic, adjectivepre·po·et·ic, adjectivepre·po·et·i·cal, adjectivepseu·do·po·et·ic, adjectivepseu·do·po·et·i·cal, adjectivequa·si-po·et·ic, adjectivequa·si-po·et·i·cal, adjectivequa·si-po·et·i·cal·ly, adverbun·po·et·ic, adjectiveun·po·et·i·cal, adjectiveun·po·et·i·cal·ly, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for poetics

Contemporary Examples of poetics

  • With “Poetics of the Gesture,” Nahmad Contemporary proves it is a fresh face at the table.

    The Daily Beast logo
    The Art World’s New Gang War

    Anthony Haden-Guest

    May 1, 2014

  • Without question, the combination of visual moment with written memory reaches to the core of “Beat, Buddhist poetics” itself.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Allen Ginsberg's Beat Memories

    Philip Gefter

    April 29, 2010

Historical Examples of poetics

British Dictionary definitions for poetics


noun (usually functioning as singular)

the principles and forms of poetry or the study of these, esp as a form of literary criticism
a treatise on poetry




of or relating to poetry
characteristic of poetry, as in being elevated, sublime, etc
characteristic of a poet
recounted in verse
Derived Formspoetically, adverb
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

Word Origin and History for poetics



1520s, from poet + -ic, or else from or influenced by Middle French poetique (c.1400), from Latin poeticus, from Greek poietikos "pertaining to poetry," literally "creative, productive," from poietos "made," verbal adjective of poiein "to make" (see poet). Related: Poetics (1727). Poetic justice "ideal justice as portrayed in plays and stories" is from 1670s. Poetic license attested by 1733.

Earlier adjective was poetical (late 14c.); also obsolete poetly (mid-15c.). Related: Poetically (early 15c.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper