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In ancient Greece, the prize awarded to the winner in many competitions, for athletes, playwrights and anything, was often a crown or wreath made of laurel leaves. Roman emperors are often shown wearing ‘the laurels’ on coins and such like. Nowadays, a laureate is someone whose work has been ‘crowned’, or publicly recognised in the form of some kind of award. In some institutions of learning, the qualification awarded at the end of a course is a ‘laureateship’ – in Italy, laureato (= laureate) is the name of the first degree in the University, equivalent to our B.A.

  • The Poet Laureate is a post officially in the Royal Household. It is held by a leading poet, appointed to honour him or her (the first women laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, was appointed in 2009, and remains (2012) in post). The Poet Laureate occasionally publishes poems to mark significant events in public life. See also AWE's list of Poets Laureate.
The preferred plural in academic English is Poets Laureate, with the noun inflected, as usual in English and the adjective not, even though it is less conventionally placed after the noun. However Poet Laureates is not uncommon.
    • The official status and recognition of a Poet Laureate has been imitated in various other fields: there is a Children' Laureate in the UK: a distinguished writer or illustrator of children's books appointed to serve for two years. (See the List of Children' Laureates; there are equivalent positions in other countries.) There are Poets Laureate in many countries. The US Senate established a salaried post of poet laureate in 1985: for some details, see wikipedia's page at [[1]].