Definition of laurel in English:



  • 1Any of a number of shrubs and other plants with dark green glossy leaves, in particular.

    cherry laurel
    and → bay
    • ‘The sweeping drive of the Coach Road to Milnerfield were planted with laurel, yew and holly, still surviving today.’
    • ‘The spice used for culinary purposes is from the dried bark of the laurel tree.’
    • ‘Rhododendron and laurel form dense thickets of glossy green.’
    • ‘Because not all plants we buy in nurseries are sun hardened, it's nice to shade your new plants with some camphor laurel branches.’
    • ‘I'm also looking at cherry laurel or wax myrtle as a privacy hedge.’
    • ‘Behind a laurel bush, Adriana stripped and lowered herself into the water.’
    • ‘Ironically while it won't grow here, its close relative the camphor laurel grows only too well.’
    • ‘A fastidious little cough from the dark side of the laurel bush interrupted her daydreams.’
    • ‘Rich in Native American and pioneer history, the Appalachian Highlands boast an amazing plant diversity - from laurel to flowering dogwood - and more than 200 different kinds of birds.’
    • ‘A multiple planting permit might be given without fee to anybody scoring a Moreton Bay fig or camphor laurel.’
    • ‘Mountain laurel and pink rhododendron peek out of the woods, while black-eyed susans and sweet peas brighten the roadside.’
    • ‘As she passed through the gate she was surprised to see someone lurking among the laurel bushes.’
    • ‘There were some scattered trees, but it was mostly meadows of green grass, laurel bushes and the river seemed to be humming its own gurgling tune.’
    • ‘We found the netting, and added a cluster of potted hebes and one further laurel to our plant collection, along with three huge plastic sacks of compost and mulch.’
    • ‘His remedy for gout was a poultice of green laurel and honey mixed with the lard of a male pig.’
    • ‘I crawled to the back end of the mountain laurel thicket.’
    • ‘Any evergreen rhododendron or mountain laurel will provide a touch of leafy green.’
    • ‘The wall became so badly eroded that the town council was forced to plant a screen of laurel bushes to hide it.’
    • ‘Holly, cherry laurel, hawthorn and yew provide undercover.’
    • ‘They planted a spring flowering cherry tree, two buddleia bushes and a laurel bush, along with daffodil bulbs.’
    • ‘Other than the occasional patch of mountain laurel, it was a very thinly wooded area.’
    • ‘For how long will the laurel leaves smell sweet?’
  • 2An aromatic evergreen shrub related to the bay tree, several kinds of which form forests in tropical and warm countries.

    • ‘Its flora is dominated by ferns, pines, Sequoia, laurels, and Platanus.’
    • ‘Trees well suited to the periodically inundated floodplain include live oak, laurel oak, American elm, and water locust.’
    • ‘Something about paper walls, I think, about archery, and a good deal about evergreen laurel, myrtle and wild camellia.’
    • ‘Covering an area of 4,330 square metres with a lawn in front and a garden behind, the building is surrounded by evergreen camphor laurels.’
    • ‘With the doors and windows sealed, the air should be purified by sprinkling perfumes and scents and by burning aromatic woods such as laurel, myrtle, rosemary and cypress.’
    • ‘Among the invasive species found here and there are Brazilian peppertree, guava, laurel fig, melaleuca, Old World climbing fern, and strangler fig.’
    • ‘From its subterranean source, the Wekiva meanders slow and clear past waving sawgrasses and under a moss-draped canopy of oak and laurel and longleaf pine.’
    • ‘Their adaptive radiation occurred in the Eocene when palms, figs, lipid-rich laurels, and other extant families were prominent.’
  • 3The foliage of the bay tree woven into a wreath or crown and worn on the head as an emblem of victory or mark of honour in classical times.

    figurative ‘Mansell became only the seventh Briton to wear the champion's laurels’
    • ‘But at least we didn't come up with those laurel wreaths.’
    • ‘Du Châtelet's mirror identifies her as the goddess of truth, while Voltaire sports a poet's laurel wreath as he assiduously transcribes the words of his female muse.’
    • ‘Later as the chariot race was added in honour of the god Apollo, these winners were crowned with laurel leaves from his sacred tree - his daughter having been transformed into a tree.’
    • ‘Green with verdigris - not an unbecoming shade - and draped in robes, she holds in her hands two laurel wreaths.’
    • ‘She received her long service medal in 1960, first bar in 1971 and laurel wreath in 1990.’
    • ‘And you look at the eagles, the massive bronze eagles in the victory arches and the laurel wreaths.’
    • ‘In the century and a half that she has stood there, poised to award that outstretched laurel crown, many women who deserve the honours have passed by uncelebrated.’
    • ‘In another interesting display of tradition, the winners in the women's race got to do a victory lap with laurel in their hair.’
    • ‘The chariot, drawn by four horses, was wreathed in laurel, and the triumphator was attired like the Capitoline Jupiter in robes of purple and gold.’
    • ‘On the left side of the panel, two barefoot attendants approach the altar, clad in short tunics and wearing laurel wreaths.’
    • ‘There is no name on the medal but it has Greek goddess of victory Nike holding a laurel wreath over Phoenix rising from the flames with the Acropolis in the background.’
    • ‘She looks like a champion with her laurel wreath.’
    • ‘A year later, the king was crowned with the laurels of victory at Fontenoy.’
    • ‘The few heads that have either been found in or associated with the sanctuary show bearded men with long curly hair wearing wreaths, probably of laurels.’
    • ‘For example, winners were honoured by thrusting a crown of laurel leaves on their heads - and not with the gold, silver and bronze medals they win these days.’
    • ‘Dressed in togas, crowned with laurel wreaths, they re-enacted ancient ceremonies, of which feasting was one.’
    • ‘On top of all that, she wore a wreath of laurel leaves on her head, like some sort of Roman emperor.’
    • ‘When she mounted the podium to accept her latest gold medal, she was crowned with a laurel wreath as the tournament committee adopted an Athens-style celebratory theme.’
    prize, trophy, award, crown, wreath, laurel wreath, laurels, bays
    View synonyms
    1. 3.1Honour or praise for an achievement.
      ‘she has rightly won laurels for this brilliantly perceptive first novel’
      • ‘His experiments in bronze sculpture were deep-rooted and won laurels.’
      • ‘‘I would be more than happy if some latent talent is spotted in this event and would go on to win laurels at the highest level,’ was his observation on the occasion.’
      • ‘Over the years, he has won several laurels competing in international events in Japan, Australia, and the United States.’
      • ‘The club members participated in many inter-school competitions and won laurels to the school.’
      • ‘The same conductor later won laurels for his interpretations of Sibelius.’
      honours, awards, trophies, prizes, rewards, tributes, praise, plaudits, accolades, decorations, titles
      kudos, acclaim, acclamation, commendation, credit, glory, honour, distinction, fame, renown, prestige, recognition
      brownie points
      View synonyms


  • Honour by adorning with a laurel or presenting with an award.

    ‘they banish our anger forever when they laurel the graves of our dead’
    ‘she is also one of science fiction's most laureled writers’
    • ‘I know that our laurelled entrepreneur of regional and international acclaim is into the production of alcoholic beverages.’
    • ‘From the Telegraph to the Guardian, from the Mail to the Mirror, he was laurelled in admiring headlines.’
    • ‘Pre-race coverage of the Boston Marathon begins at 9 AM and will continue live (on some channel or the other) until the men's and women's winners are duly laureled.’
    • ‘A remarkable gracefulness in movement was created in these intricate embellishments such as the acanthus and oak leaves, volute scroll and laurelling details.’
    • ‘Expect her to win countless industry awards over the coming months and to accept them with the benevolent grace of a laureled goddess.’
    • ‘Reaction in the press was generally of intense respect: at eighty-one his was a long and ultimately laurelled literary career.’
    • ‘In the painting, a laureled boy-man sits on a red rock holding a palette and pensively gazing into the distance.’
    • ‘The elaborately carved oak Sanctuary lamp is very ornate with acorn and vine leaf laurelling about the pedestal.’


  • look to one's laurels

    • Be careful not to lose one's superior position to a rival.

      ‘they're very good players—we'll have to look to our laurels’
      • ‘They had all better look to their laurels: the queen of them all is back to claim her crown.’
      • ‘After moving to the top of the table they have also signalled their cup intentions and holders Guiseley had better look to their laurels.’
      • ‘He has made professional spin doctors look to their laurels.’
      • ‘In 1854 Thackeray warned Millais: ‘look to your laurels: there is a young fellow in Rome called Leighton, who will one day be President of the Royal Academy.’’
      • ‘When he suggested that the Silent Majority should look to their laurels in regard to opposing the so-called Racial Justice group, he couldn't have got it more right.’
      • ‘Guiseley will have to look to their laurels on Saturday and make sure there are no slip ups against the North West Counties side Trafford.’
      • ‘If it is, their leader will have to look to his laurels because contiguity with Washington is a mixed blessing in this neck of the woods.’
      • ‘Grammar chose to have an off day that did their championship hopes no good, and they will need to look to their laurels in the weeks ahead.’
      • ‘Now is the time for the councils to look to their laurels.’
  • rest on one's laurels

    • Be so satisfied with what one has already done or achieved that one makes no further effort.

      ‘with TV sports coverage becoming increasingly competitive, the BBC should beware of resting on its laurels’
      • ‘But we were not designed to rest on the laurels earned by our forefathers.’
      • ‘He has experienced more adventure than most of us enjoy in a lifetime but he is not resting on his laurels and is already planning further adventures.’
      • ‘We cannot rest on our laurels after the efforts of the weekend.’
      • ‘But we have no intention of resting on our fresh green laurels.’
      • ‘We can't rest on our laurels; we will continue to work very hard to achieve the best results for all the students.’
      • ‘Yet these individuals are not resting on past laurels.’
      • ‘He is not resting on his laurels and has already begun working for further improvement.’
      • ‘But I've rested on my laurels and never put effort into anything.’
      • ‘He continues to strive towards perfection and is never satisfied with resting on his laurels.’
      • ‘You can create your own destiny,’ she said recalling her own experience of rising in a field dominated by men and how she achieved her dreams and didn't rest on her laurels.’


Middle English lorer, from Old French lorier, from Provençal laurier, from earlier laur, from Latin laurus.