[ poh-i-tree ]
/ ˈpoʊ ɪ tri /
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the art of rhythmical composition, written or spoken, for exciting pleasure by beautiful, imaginative, or elevated thoughts.
literary work in metrical form; verse.
prose with poetic qualities.
poetic qualities however manifested: the poetry of simple acts and things.
poetic spirit or feeling: The pianist played the prelude with poetry.
something suggestive of or likened to poetry: the pure poetry of a beautiful view on a clear day.
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Origin of poetry

First recorded in 1350–1400; Middle English poetrie, from Medieval Latin poētria “poetic art,” derivative of poētapoet, but formation is unclear; probably not from Greek poiḗtria “poetess”

synonym study for poetry

2. Poetry, verse agree in referring to the work of a poet. The difference between poetry and verse is usually the difference between substance and form. Poetry is lofty thought or impassioned feeling expressed in imaginative words: Elizabethan poetry. Verse is any expression in words which simply conforms to accepted metrical rules and structure: the differences between prose and verse.


po·et·ry·less, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What is poetry?

Poetry is literature that is written in verse and emphasizes the rhythmic use of words to create imagery.  Works of poetry are called poems. A person who writes poetry is called a poet.

Poetry is a major form of literature. The biggest difference that sets poetry apart from other forms of writing is that poetry uses verse, which is concerned with meter, rather than prose, which does not. Poetry also may not use complete sentences or punctuation marks. Instead, poetry places an importance on using words and syllables that give rhythm to a poem.

There are many different forms of poetry, such as haiku, elegies, and sonnets. While some types of poems have rules on how they should be written, poets often break the rules if the poem will be better for it. You can find more information about these and other forms of poetry in our article, “12 Essential Types of Poetry.”

Why is poetry important?

The first records of the word poetry come from around 1350. It ultimately comes through the Medieval Latin poēta, meaning “poet.”

Poetry itself is much, much older than the English word. The oldest example of any literature that still survives today is “The Epic of Gilgamesh,” an epic poem that is over 4,000 years old.

Poetry, particularly rhyming poetry, is especially popular in children’s literature. We even use the term nursery rhyme to refer specifically to simple, entertaining poems written especially for very young children. Rhymes are easier to remember than other forms of writing, which explains why they are so often used in children’s poetry.

Did you know … ?

Since 1996, April has been celebrated as National Poetry Month. During the month, many people celebrate the importance of poetry and many poetry-related organizations endorse activities that encourage the writing of poetry during April. If you have wondered why you might be writing a lot of poetry in school during April, this is likely the reason.

What are real-life examples of poetry?

Here is an example of poetry written by an unknown poet:

“Itsy bitsy spider
Climbed up the waterspout;
Down came the rain
And washed the spider out;
Out came the sun
And dried up all the rain;
And the itsy bitsy spider
Climbed up the spout again.”

—Anonymous, Itsy Bitsy Spider

Poetry has always been a popular form of literature.


What other words are related to poetry?

Quiz yourself!

True or False?

Poetry is written in verse instead of prose.

How to use poetry in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for poetry

/ (ˈpəʊɪtrɪ) /

literature in metrical form; verse
the art or craft of writing verse
poetic qualities, spirit, or feeling in anything
anything resembling poetry in rhythm, beauty, etc

Word Origin for poetry

C14: from Medieval Latin poētria, from Latin poēta poet
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