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

Noun They enjoyed the laurels of their military victory. The player earned his laurels from years of hard work.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Bay laurel, pride of Barbados, ornamental banana, hamelia and coral bean are starting to send up new growth as well. Nushin Huq, Chron, 27 Apr. 2021 Second-place finishers got a bronze medal and laurel branches. Washington Post, 7 Apr. 2021 This looks like an English laurel (Prunus laurocerasus). oregonlive, 5 Sep. 2020 Limbs from an overhanging laurel tree were trimmed. Steve Rubenstein, San Francisco Chronicle, 19 Feb. 2021 The rug also includes a depiction of a garland made of laurel leaves, a tie-in to the First Lady’s first name, Laura. Mary Elizabeth Andriotis, House Beautiful, 14 Jan. 2021 If the Tidal Basin were planted with cherry laurel instead of cherry trees, well, there would be no tour buses flocking to the Cherry Laurel Festival. Washington Post, 2 Dec. 2020 Handcrafted from noble red fir, western red cedar and laurel, this fresh centerpiece from L.L.Bean also mixes in pinecones, golden berry sprays, and matte gold and ivory ornament balls. Courtney Thompson, CNN Underscored, 1 Dec. 2020 With its smooth, lustrous leaves, Osmanthus fragrans could almost be mistaken for a laurel and can ultimately grow to 30 feet if left to its own devices. oregonlive, 6 Nov. 2020

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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Time Traveler for laurel

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

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Cite this Entry

“Laurel.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jul. 2021.

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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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