Lau"rel (?), n. [OE. lorel, laurer, lorer, OF. lorier, laurier, F. laurier, (assumed) LL. Laurarius, fr. L. laurus.]
An evergreen shrub, of the genus Laurus (L. nobilis), having aromatic leaves of a lanceolate shape, with clusters of small, yellowish white flowers in their axils; -- called also sweet bay.
The fruit is a purple berry. It is found about the Mediterranean, and was early used by the ancient Greeks to crown the victor in the games of Apollo. At a later period, academic honors were indicated by a crown of laurel, with the fruit. The leaves and tree yield an aromatic oil, used to flavor the bay water of commerce.
⇒ The name is extended to other plants which in some respect resemble the true laurel. See Phrases, below.
A crown of laurel; hence, honor; distinction; fame; -- especially in the plural; as, to win laurels.
An English gold coin made in 1619, and so called because the king's head on it was crowned with laurel.
Laurel water, water distilled from the fresh leaves of the cherry laurel, and containing prussic acid and other products carried over in the process.
American laurel, ∨ Mountain laurel, Kalmia latifolia. See under Mountain. -- California laurel, Umbellularia Californica. -- Cherry laurel (in England called laurel). See under Cherry. -- Great laurel, the rosebay (Rhododendron maximum). -- Ground laurel, trailing arbutus. -- New Zealand laurel, Laurelia Novae Zelandiae. -- Portugal laurel, the Prunus Lusitanica. -- Rose laurel, the oleander. See Oleander. -- Sheep laurel, a poisonous shrub, Kalmia angustifolia, smaller than the mountain laurel, and with smaller and redder flowers. -- Spurge laurel, Daphne Laureola. -- West Indian laurel, Prunus occidentalis.
© Webster 1913.