Word of the Day


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Liz Potter
Written by Liz Potter


an old word meaning ‘poetry’

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary

Origin and usage

The noun poesy comes from the French ‘poésie’ meaning a piece of poetry. It was first used in the late 14th century.


Tomorrow is National Poetry Day, an annual celebration of poetry whose aim is to encourage everyone to enjoy, discover and share poetry. This year’s theme is Vision. We have looked at the terms poet, poetry and poem in previous posts, so today it’s the turn of poesyMacmillan Dictionary’s definition calls this ‘an old word’ and it has a very old-fashioned feel. Sometimes spelled poesie, it was in use until the early 19th century since when its use has steadily declined to a point where it is only found in self-consciously archaic writing. Its replacement, ‘poetry’, dates from the same time and for a long time the two terms were interchangeable.


O for ten years, that I may overwhelm Myself in poesy; so I may do the deed That my own soul has to itself decreed.
(Keats, Sleep and Poetry)

Hail Poesie! thou nymph reserv’d!
(Robert Burns)

Related words

metre, rhyme, rhythm, scansion

Browse related words in the Macmillan Thesaurus.

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Liz Potter

Liz Potter

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