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late 14c., from Latin laureatus "crowned with laurels," from laurea "laurel crown" (emblematic of victory or distinction in poetry), from fem. of laureus "of laurel," from laurus "laurel." Laureat poete first found in "Canterbury Tales" (form with the noun before the adjective, in imitation of Latin word order, is from c.1400 in English); the first official one was probably Ben Jonson (1638), though the first recorded one was Dryden (1668). Extended to Nobel prize winners, 1947. As a noun, 1520s, from the adjective. Related: Laureateship.