"Shayari" is a corruption of "shairi," which is Urdu for "poetry." Shairi are poems consisting of at least one couplet or "Sher." Several couplets grouped together constitute a "Ghazal," which is the most popular of Urdu poetry formats.
While several couplets comprise a Ghazal, they individually express a thought or idea independent of the other couplets of the section. The ashaar (couplets) may therefore differ in tone and meaning from each other. In Urdu poetry, compositions have names based on their content. Thus a poem with a humorous subject is called a Hazal, while a Madah is one written in order to praise patrons and kings. Punjabi and Hindi literature also make use of the Ghazal poetry format.