- Also called bay, sweet bay. a small European evergreen tree, Laurus nobilis, of the laurel family, having dark, glossy green leaves.Compare laurel family.
- any tree of the genus Laurus.
- any of various similar trees or shrubs, as the mountain laurel or the great rhododendron.
- the foliage of the laurel as an emblem of victory or distinction.
- a branch or wreath of laurel foliage.
- Usually laurels. honor won, as for achievement in a field or activity.
verb (used with object), lau·reled, lau·rel·ing or (especially British) lau·relled, lau·rel·ling.
- to adorn or wreathe with laurel.
- to honor with marks of distinction.
- look to one’s laurels, to be alert to the possibility of being excelled or surpassed: New developments in the industry are forcing long-established firms to look to their laurels.
- rest on one’s laurels, to be content with one’s past or present honors, achievements, etc.: He retired at the peak of his career and is resting on his laurels.
- StanArthur Stanley Jefferson, 1890–1965, U.S. motion-picture actor and comedian, born in England.
- a city in SE Mississippi.
- a town in central Maryland.
- a female given name.
- Also called: bay, true laurel any lauraceous tree of the genus Laurus, such as the bay tree (see bay 4) and L. canariensis, of the Canary Islands and Azores
- any lauraceous plant
- short for cherry laurel, mountain laurel
- spurge laurel a European thymelaeaceous evergreen shrub, Daphne laureola, with glossy leaves and small green flowers
- spotted laurel or Japan laurel an evergreen cornaceous shrub, Aucuba japonica, of S and SE Asia, the female of which has yellow-spotted leaves
- (plural) a wreath of true laurel, worn on the head as an emblem of victory or honour in classical times
- (plural) honour, distinction, or fame
- look to one’s laurels to be on guard against one’s rivals
- rest on one’s laurels to be satisfied with distinction won by past achievements and cease to strive for further achievements
verb -rels, -relling or -relled or US -rels, -reling or -reled
- (tr) to crown with laurels
n.c.1300, lorrer, from Old French laurier (12c.), from Latin laurus “laurel tree,” probably related to Greek daphne “laurel” (for change of d- to l- see lachrymose), probably from a pre-IE Mediterranean language. The change of second -r- to -l- after mid-14c. is by dissimilation. An emblem of victory or of distinction, hence the phrase to rest (originally repose) on one’s laurels, first attested 1831. see look to one’s laurels; rest on one’s laurels.