mat·​i·​nee ˌma-tə-ˈnā How to pronounce matinee (audio)
variants or matinée
: a musical or dramatic performance or social or public event held in the daytime and especially the afternoon
The Saturday matinee was so crowded that we had to sit in the second row.

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Soiree: A Fancy Evening Party

In English, soiree means “a fancy evening affair.” The word comes directly from French and was formed from the word soir, meaning “evening” or “night.” The French make a subtle distinction between soir, which refers explicitly to the time of day following sunset, and soirée, which refers to some duration of time, usually translated as “evening.” English speakers don’t use different words, but we understand the difference between “I’ll see you tomorrow evening” and “We spent the evening playing cards”—one refers to a time of day and one refers to the passage of time. From the idea of a period of time evolved the second meaning of soirée: a party that takes place during the evening. As is typical for words that have been borrowed from modern French, soiree in English signifies the fancy version of a simple “party”: an evening event that is formal or refined in some way.

A third sense of soirée in French, “an evening performance,” has a parallel with matinée, from matin “morning. ” Matinée literally means “morning performance” in French but has come to mean “daytime or afternoon performance” in English. The “evening performance” meaning of soirée has not been adopted by English. Our Unabridged of 1934, however, did record both a verb soiree (meaning, presumably, “to hold or attend an evening party”) and the variant swarry, “so spelled in mimicry of mispronunciation.”

Soiree can be spelled in English using the acute accent as soirée, but is usually spelled without it.

Examples of matinee in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Here are the highlights from Thursday’s matinee: Bobby Witt’s amazing day Witt, the Royals’ phenomenal shortstop, was a highlight reel with his bat and glove. Blair Kerkhoff, Kansas City Star, 11 Apr. 2024 Vampire Weekend’s matinee concert Monday in Austin was the ultimate ADHD-friendly show. Chris Willman, Variety, 9 Apr. 2024 Sunday matinee performances, which are free for children ages 6 to 12, include Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 9 on Nov. 10, Handel’s Messiah on Dec. 15, Bach and Mozart on Jan. 12, 2025, and Bernstein and Copland on May 18, 2025. Adam Bell, Charlotte Observer, 3 Apr. 2024 Jones had a career-high 43 points, five rebounds, seven assists and four steals in a 130-102 victory over the Mexico City Capitanes in a matinee affair early Thursday afternoon at Golden 1 Center. Jason Anderson, Sacramento Bee, 8 Mar. 2024 The Sixers are 3-7 this season without Embiid, the reigning NBA MVP and the two-time defending league scoring champion — who entered Monday’s matinee leading the NBA in scoring at 34.6 points. Dan Gelston, USA TODAY, 15 Jan. 2024 Wednesday was a morning matinee in the Dallas suburbs. Zach Welch, Kansas City Star, 25 Mar. 2024 Bringing new people on campus is certainly a reason to host this production, which will be performed at evening and matinees March 21-24. Jim Harrington, The Mercury News, 20 Mar. 2024 He’s scheduled to play in the matinee game for a Bucks team that has lost the first two games of a four-game West Coast swing, which makes this contest that much more challenging for the Clippers. Broderick Turner, Los Angeles Times, 9 Mar. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'matinee.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


French matinée, literally, morning, from Old French, from matin morning, from Latin matutinum, from neuter of matutinus of the morning, from Matuta, goddess of morning; akin to Latin maturus ripe — more at mature

First Known Use

1848, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of matinee was in 1848

Dictionary Entries Near matinee

Cite this Entry

“Matinee.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


variants or matinée
: a theatrical performance held in the daytime and especially in the afternoon

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