Word of the Day



a large printed notice or picture that you put on a wall for decoration or to announce or advertise something

Origin and usage

With usage beginning in the 1800s, the word poster is thought to be an adaptation of the earlier meanings of ‘swift travel’ or ‘dispatch’. The progression of ‘post’ to ‘poster’ is likely based in the concept of conveying news, though the earlier meanings refer to news that was physically conveyed by a messenger rather than the static nature of what came to be known as a poster.


A poster is usually comprised of a combination of text and image components. In the modern age, posters are commonly used as a form of advertisement, but they are also used by protestors and propagandists to share specific messages. Posters became popular in the mid-1800s thanks to advancements in the printing industry, such as lithography. This meant that printed materials could be mass produced, using coloured ink and metal sheets to transfer words and images across multiple copies.

A poster is usually designed to send a message, but also must be aesthetically commanding to catch the eye of a passer-by. For these reasons posters have also become popular mediums for artists and many posters that were once printed for purely commercial purposes have inspired works of art. Posters have also become a useful tool for understanding important moments in history as they often commemorate specific events and are more accessible than other materials that would have been costlier to produce. Posters must also be displayed in public places and need to withstand damage. Because of this, they are typically easier to preserve than delicate printed materials like newspapers, making them hardy and valuable artefacts.


“The problem with romantic comedies is you know the ending by the poster. So they’re not movies you can keep doing over and over again expect satisfaction.”

(Ryan Reynolds)


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View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

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Macmillan Dictionary

Macmillan Dictionary

Macmillan Dictionary is an award-winning, one-stop reference for English learners and speakers around the world.

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