lau·​rel | \ ˈlȯr-əl How to pronounce laurel (audio) , ˈlär-\

Definition of laurel

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : an evergreen shrub or tree (Laurus nobilis of the family Lauraceae, the laurel family) of southern Europe with small yellow flowers, fruits that are ovoid blackish berries, and evergreen foliage once used by the ancient Greeks to crown victors in the Pythian games

called also bay, sweet bay

2 : a tree or shrub that resembles the true laurel especially : mountain laurel
3a : a crown of laurel awarded as an honor
b : a recognition of achievement : honor usually used in plural


laureled or laurelled; laureling or laurelling

Definition of laurel (Entry 2 of 3)

transitive verb

: to deck or crown with laurel


biographical name
Lau·​rel | \ ˈlȯr-əl How to pronounce Laurel (audio) , ˈlär-\

Definition of Laurel (Entry 3 of 3)

Stan 1890–1965 born Arthur Stanley Jefferson British comic actor in U.S.

Illustration of laurel

Illustration of laurel


laurel 1

In the meaning defined above

Examples of laurel in a Sentence


They enjoyed the laurels of their military victory. The player earned his laurels from years of hard work.

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

You will be surrounded by bay laurel and sage, and may see lizards skittering on the ground and hawks circling above. Charles Fleming,, "L.A. Walks: Explore an old winery site on a La Crescenta ramble," 12 July 2019 Local restaurateur Benjamin Berg isn't one to rest on his laurels. Darla Guillen Gilthorpe, Houston Chronicle, "Montrose's B.B Lemon readies for July 8 opening," 21 June 2019 Seeing Nobel Peace Prize laurels and eyeing potential to show up his critics at home and abroad, Trump is granting Kim the international legitimacy he's long sought in hopes of securing a legacy-defining accord. Fox News, "Trump casts North Korea summit as 'one-time shot' for Kim," 9 June 2018 Both have said on multiple occasions that resting on their laurels will never be an option. Shawn Mcfarland,, "Travelers Championship draws rave reviews from golf’s best, as tournament director Nathan Grube chalks it up to consistency," 24 June 2019 With laurels nobly won- The nation’s pride, grim Ocean’s bride, High Priestess of the Sun! San Diego Union-Tribune, "From the Archives: L. Frank Baum at Coronado," 16 June 2019 The rest-on-our-laurels strategy is a fool’s bet, whereas remaining a humble, passionate servant of our craft is the best long-game play. Josh Linkner, Detroit Free Press, "When we stop doing the things that made us great," 15 June 2019 Despite the strength of the storm, the state managed to effectively contain the loss of life, earning it laurels from across the world. Nupur Anand, Quartz India, "India’s Gujarat may narrowly escape “very severe” Cyclone Vayu," 13 June 2019 The Coastal Pimm's Cup, made with Pimm’s No.1, St. George Terroir Gin, lemon juice, bitters, ginger beer, and bay laurel, is worth the trip alone. Sam Dangremond, Town & Country, "T&C Travel Guide: Napa Valley and Sonoma County, California," 9 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'laurel.' 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 laurel


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1631, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for laurel


Middle English lorel, in part from Medieval Latin laureola spurge laurel (from Latin, laurel sprig), in part modification of Anglo-French lorer, from Old French lor laurel, from Latin laurus

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Statistics for laurel

Last Updated

15 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for laurel

The first known use of laurel was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for laurel



English Language Learners Definition of laurel

: an evergreen tree or bush with shiny pointed leaves
: honor or fame given for some achievement


lau·​rel | \ ˈlȯr-əl How to pronounce laurel (audio) \

Kids Definition of laurel

1 : a small evergreen European tree with shiny pointed leaves used in ancient times to crown victors (as in sports)
2 : a tree or shrub (as the American mountain laurel ) that resembles the European laurel
3 : a crown of laurel used as a mark of honor

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More from Merriam-Webster on laurel

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with laurel

Spanish Central: Translation of laurel

Nglish: Translation of laurel for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of laurel for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about laurel

Comments on laurel

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characterized by aphorism

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