1. The act or practice of composing poems.
a. Poems regarded as forming a division of literature.
b. The poetic works of a given author, group, nation, or kind.
3. Literature written in meter; verse.
4. Prose that resembles a poem in some respect, as in vivid imagery or rhythmic sound.
5. The essence or characteristic quality of a poem: "It is impossible to separate the 'poetry' in Paradise Lost from the peculiar doctrines that it enshrines" (T.S. Eliot).
6. A quality that suggests poetry, as in grace, beauty, or harmony: the poetry of the dancer's movements.
[Middle English poetrie, from Old French, from Medieval Latin poētria, from Latin poēta, poet; see POET.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
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