Definition of poetry in English:



  • 1[mass noun] Literary work in which the expression of feelings and ideas is given intensity by the use of distinctive style and rhythm; poems collectively or as a genre of literature.

    ‘he felt a desire to investigate through poetry the subjects of pain and death’
    ‘she glanced at the papers and saw some lines of poetry’
    ‘he is chiefly famous for his love poetry’
    • ‘It deals with the time factor employed in or between lines or units or strophes of poetry.’
    • ‘Had Surrey never written a line of poetry, his life would still be worth recounting.’
    • ‘I was brought up with the idea that poetry should rhyme; shape poems and the like were unheard of.’
    • ‘For as well as a term relevant to expressive theories of poetry, voice is a narratological concept.’
    • ‘Do you think that poetry is still valid as a form of personal expression?’
    • ‘It's a story of American culture in transition, of music in the air, of politics and of art, of literature and of poetry.’
    • ‘Literature is a masculinist invention; poetry in particular is a spectacular form of male display.’
    • ‘In the classical set of genres, poetry was epic or lyric according to the degree in which the poet's direct voice was heard.’
    • ‘It is founded on the French tradition of the dream as a vehicle for love poetry.’
    • ‘His father, also called Michael, instilled in his son a love of Irish poetry and ballads.’
    • ‘The emphasis here is on how Donne's love poetry becomes an apology of verse itself.’
    • ‘The poetry and literature was often a mirror of how the king and the aristocracy who surrounded him liked to think of themselves.’
    • ‘Many students would be happier if poetry was poetry, and criticism was criticism.’
    • ‘This book has tremendous appeal to the literary students of poetry and to teachers.’
    • ‘Women also bring to poetry or other genres of literature a whole new area of experience and vision.’
    • ‘Because he did not have any formal education in art, his aesthetic ideas derived from poetry and literature.’
    • ‘She isn't always forcing the subjects of her poetry into metaphors about alienation.’
    • ‘His love poetry takes a different line from that of his contemporaries.’
    • ‘Drama, literature, and poetry all work out ideas of standards of behaviour and their consequences.’
    • ‘The same question can therefore be raised in relation to the whole genre of poetry.’
    poems, verse, verses, versification, metrical composition, rhythmical composition, rhymes, rhyming, balladry
    poesy, parnassus
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1A quality of beauty and intensity of emotion regarded as characteristic of poems.
      ‘poetry and fire are nicely balanced in the music’
      • ‘This is largely the failing of a vapid script that lacks both strong characterisations and poetry.’
      • ‘Sokurov's drama has a haunting quality to it and moments of poetry found in the simplest of shots.’
      • ‘Dialogue is used to develop character rather than further action and has an inherent poetry to it.’
      • ‘All the songs are just about music without any of the poetry that can often seem at odds with the raw emotion of the sounds and rhythm.’
      • ‘The passion was still there, the anger was still there, the poetry and the beauty and the sense of mission were all still there.’
      • ‘Yellow shirts create poetry in motion by bringing order to the carefully choreographed ballet on the carrier flight deck.’
      • ‘This has far more beauty and poetry and poignancy and soul than we were expecting from the property.’
      • ‘The other problem is that while the play pushes all the right emotional buttons, it does so without poetry or flair.’
      • ‘So all of those things are very comforting and delightful and poetry is at the heart of them.’
    2. 1.2Something regarded as comparable to poetry in its beauty.
      ‘the music department is housed in a building which is pure poetry’
      • ‘To some it's as mundane as plumbing, but to me the connection of A to B is pure poetry.’


Late Middle English: from medieval Latin poetria, from Latin poeta poet. In early use the word sometimes referred to creative literature in general.