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[lawr-uh l, lor-] /ˈlɔr əl, ˈlɒr-/
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), laureled, laureling or (especially British) laurelled, laurelling.
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.
1250-1300; dissimilated variant of Middle English laurer, earlier lorer < Anglo-French; Old French lorier bay tree, equivalent to lor bay, laurel (< Latin laurus) + -ier -ier2; see -er2
Related forms
unlaureled, adjective
unlaurelled, adjective
6. glory, fame, renown, praise. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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British Dictionary definitions for look to one's laurels


Also called bay, true laurel. any lauraceous tree of the genus Laurus, such as the bay tree (see bay4) and L. canariensis, of the Canary Islands and Azores
any lauraceous plant
spurge laurel, a European thymelaeaceous evergreen shrub, Daphne laureola, with glossy leaves and small green flowers
spotted laurel, Japan laurel, an evergreen cornaceous shrub, Aucuba japonica, of S and SE Asia, the female of which has yellow-spotted leaves
(pl) a wreath of true laurel, worn on the head as an emblem of victory or honour in classical times
(pl) 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, -relled (US) -rels, -reling, -reled
(transitive) to crown with laurels
Word Origin
C13 lorer, from Old French lorier laurel tree, ultimately from Latin laurus
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
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Word Origin and History for look to one's laurels



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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with look to one's laurels

look to one's laurels

Protect one's preeminent reputation or position, especially against a threat of being surpassed. For example, Your opponent's done very well in the practice, so you'd better look to your laurels in the actual game. This idiom alludes to laurels as the traditional material for making a victor's crown. [ Late 1800s ]
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Encyclopedia Article for look to one's laurels


city, Prince George's county, central Maryland, U.S., on the Patuxent River midway between Washington, D.C., and Baltimore. The land was patented to Richard Snowden, who arrived about 1658 and founded the community. Montpelier Mansion (1783; Georgian), built by Thomas Snowden, is now owned by the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission. The town was named for the local laurel trees. After World War II the community experienced growth as a residential and industrial centre. The Applied Physics Laboratory of Johns Hopkins University is there. Laurel Park racecourse offers Thoroughbred racing and was the site of the annual Washington D.C. International horse race from 1952 until 1995, when the race was discontinued. The Patuxent Wildlife Research Center within Patuxent Research Refuge (southeast) is between Fort George G. Meade (an army base) and the National Agricultural Research Center. T. Howard Duckett (Rocky Gorge) Reservoir and Dam are immediately northwest. Inc. town, 1870. Pop. (1990) 19,438; (2000) 19,960.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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