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Unrhymed Japanese poetic form. It consists of 17 syllables arranged in three lines of 5, 7, and 5 syllables, respectively. The form expresses much and suggests more in the fewest possible words. It gained distinction in the 17th century, when Basho elevated it to a highly refined art. Haiku remains Japan's most popular poetic form and is widely imitated in English and other languages.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on haiku, visit Britannica.com.