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early 14c., "a poet, a singer" (c.1200 as a surname), from Old French poete (12c., Modern French poète) and directly from Latin poeta "a poet," from Greek poetes "maker, author, poet," variant of poietes, from poein, poiein "to make, create, compose," from PIE *kwoiwo- "making," from root *kwei- "to pile up, build, make" (cf. Sanskrit cinoti "heaping up, piling up," Old Church Slavonic činu "act, deed, order").
Replaced Old English scop (which survives in scoff). Used in 14c., as in classical languages, for all sorts of writers or composers of works of literature. Poète maudit, "a poet insufficiently appreciated by his contemporaries," literally "cursed poet," attested by 1930, from French (1884, Verlaine). For poet laureate see laureate.