Word of the Day


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Liz Potter
Written by Liz Potter


a piece of writing using beautiful or unusual language arranged in fixed lines that have a particular beat and often rhyme

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

Origin and usage

The noun poem is a borrowing from French ‘poeme’ and Latin ‘poema’. It was first used in English in the late 15th century, about a century after the similar word ‘poesy’, which was also borrowed from French. The even earlier ‘rhyme’ was another borrowing from French.


Today is the 25th National Poetry Day, an annual celebration in the UK whose aim is to inspire people to enjoy, discover and share poems. The theme of this year’s day is Truth, although as the organizers are keen to point out, the theme is intended to provide inspiration rather than be prescriptive. National Poetry Day, which is a UK-only celebration, should not be confused with World Poetry Day, a UN-sponsored event that takes place on 21st March and has been running since 2000. While National Poetry Day has a strong educational focus, the celebration is open to everyone, and people around the country are invited to organize events, displays and competitions, or simply to post their favourite poems on social media using #nationalpoetryday.


When old age shall this generation waste,
                Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe
Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say’st,
         “Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all
                Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”

(Keats, Ode on a Grecian Urn)

“To forge a poem is one thing, to forge the uncreated conscience of the race … is quite another.”
(Seamus Heaney)

Related words

verse, couplet, stanza, rhyme, blank verse

Browse related words in the Macmillan Thesaurus.

About the author

Liz Potter

Liz Potter

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