hai·​ku | \ ˈhī-(ˌ)kü How to pronounce haiku (audio) \
plural haiku

Definition of haiku

: an unrhymed verse form of Japanese origin having three lines containing usually five, seven, and five syllables respectively also : a poem in this form usually having a seasonal reference — compare tanka

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Did You Know?

A haiku is an unrhymed Japanese poetic form that consists of 17 syllables arranged in three lines containing five, seven, and five syllables, respectively. A haiku expresses much and suggests more in the fewest possible words. The form gained distinction in the 17th century, when Basho, a Japanese poet considered the greatest practitioner of the form, elevated it to a highly refined art. It remains Japan’s most popular poetic form. The Imagist poets (1912–30) and others have imitated the form in English and other languages.

Examples of haiku in a Sentence

He has written many beautiful haiku.

Recent Examples on the Web

Photo: John Deere In person, the Waterloo Boy is a shockingly skeletal piece of iron-hogging and hammering, the engineering equivalent of haiku. Dan Neil, WSJ, "100 Years of John Deere: How Its Waterloo Boy Tractor Changed America," 7 Sep. 2018 The novel features a large cast of characters and ambitious set pieces: a catastrophic flood, a dance recital, a cherry-blossom-viewing expedition, improvisational haiku writing and excruciating family interviews with potential husbands. Francine Prose, WSJ, "Five Best: Francine Prose on Family Troubles," 12 July 2018 In the blue and gray living room are curtains designed by Jorge Pardo, Douglas Gordon and Rirkrit Tiravanija, one depicting the sun as flames, another as an ominous hand and eye, the last as a terse haiku. Adam Popescu, New York Times, "Tobias Rehberger’s Friends Are Always With Him," 26 June 2018 Tom Ziller wrote his entire mock draft for SBNation in haiku format. Rachel Roberts, idahostatesman, "If draft experts are right, Boise State's Hutchison will land with a six-time NBA champ," 20 June 2018 But the great kitchens, the ones that inspire hour-long drives and dinnertime haiku, tend to labor over their fragrant goo as assiduously as a French baker might over her baguettes. Jonathan Gold, latimes.com, "At Middle Eastern restaurants, it all starts with hummus. Jonathan Gold says Bavel's is magnificent," 15 June 2018 Of course, sonnets and haiku are famous for employing strict counts on lines and syllables. Chris Stirewalt, Fox News, "Donald from Washington, you're on the line," 26 Apr. 2018 In their fourth book of animal haiku, author Michael J. Rosen and illustrator Stan Fellows range from the field to the barn to the saddle in The Horse’s Haiku. Monitor Staff, The Christian Science Monitor, "Voyages, animals, beauty for the youngest readers," 11 June 2018 Like haiku's many of them work with brief, quick moments and feelings. Denise Coffey, Courant Community, "Michelle Constantine Cole's "Untitled:Twentyfive" To Be Released June 15," 6 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'haiku.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of haiku

1902, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for haiku


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Dictionary Entries near haiku





haikwan tael


hail a taxi

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Time Traveler for haiku

The first known use of haiku was in 1902

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More Definitions for haiku


hai·​ku | \ ˈhī-ˌkü How to pronounce haiku (audio) \
plural haiku

Kids Definition of haiku

: a Japanese poem or form of poetry without rhyme having three lines with the first and last lines having five syllables and the middle having seven

More from Merriam-Webster on haiku

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about haiku

Comments on haiku

What made you want to look up haiku? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a tendency to relapse

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