lau·rel | \ˈlȯr-əl, 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, 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

The music icon has not been resting on her laurels following her residency, with the star working out daily keeping her in tip-top shape. Dave Quinn,, "Britney Spears 'Excited to be Back' as She Kicks Off Piece of Me Tour in Maryland," 13 July 2018 Tyrants respond to their early successes not by resting on their laurels but by constantly upping the ante more and more, purging the disloyal, and forcing the loyal to submit to more and more ludicrous positions. Andrew Sullivan, Daily Intelligencer, "Did Trump Just Help Stop Brexit?," 13 July 2018 Ralph Webb, Vanderbilt’s all-time leading rusher, is gone, but Vanderbilt adds Illinois transfer Ke’Shawn Vaughn to the backfield, so Kentucky's front seven cannot afford to rest on its laurels here. Jon Hale, The Courier-Journal, "How Kentucky football can win (or lose) against Vanderbilt," 8 July 2018 Daniel Loeb wants Nestle to stop resting on its laurels. Hallie Detrick, Fortune, "A Major Activist Investor Wants KitKat-Maker Nestle to Break Up. Here's What He Wants, and Why," 2 July 2018 While the evening’s early rainstorm had likely thinned the crowds, those who were here were treated to beautiful weather and an energetic performance from a musician who hasn’t rested on his laurels since being a 1980s teen heart throb. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Best and worst of Summerfest Day 5: Greta Van Fleet, Chromeo, Rick Springfield and more," 1 July 2018 Those of us with a voice can’t rest on our laurels — or our tax cuts — and retreat to our bubbles. Laura Brown, Time, "Why InStyle’s Editor, Laura Brown, Decided to Launch a Series Celebrating Badass Women," 26 June 2018 CovCath athletes and administrators plan to keep that spirit alive and not rest on their laurels after a school year that will live on in the record books and the banners in the gymnasium. James Weber,, "Covington Catholic athletic director reflects on historic year of 2 state titles,," 19 June 2018 Despite all these borrowings from elsewhere, the predominant presence is the Mexican heartland—in the old city’s squares, for instance, where habitantes sit or stroll under canopies of manicured laurel. Sam Young, Vogue, "Is Querétaro the New San Miguel de Allende?," 19 Apr. 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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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

laurels : honor or fame given for some achievement


lau·rel | \ˈlȯr-əl \

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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Comments on laurel

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