Definition of poetry in English:



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