mat·​i·​nee | \ ˌma-tə-ˈnā How to pronounce matinee (audio) \
variants: or matinée

Definition of matinee

: 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 But last week's changes may allow up to 250 fans in stadiums, just in time for the Christmas Day matinee that will be televised nationally on Fox. Chris Solari, Detroit Free Press, "Why Michigan State basketball will allow families to attend Christmas game vs. Wisconsin," 24 Dec. 2020 Then the Longhorns head to Waco for a Sunday (Dec. 13) matinee with No. 2 Baylor (3-0). Nick Moyle,, "Texas earns highest AP Top 25 ranking under Shaka Smart," 7 Dec. 2020 For us, an afternoon of skiing is more valuable than a matinee movie, so our donations reflect that mind-set. Star Tribune, "Here’s what you need to know to ski safely this season despite the coronavirus pandemic.," 5 Dec. 2020 Also on the lineup: choreographic premieres from associate artistic director Matthew Rushing and dancer and resident choreographer Jamar Roberts, live interactive workshops, a family matinee program, and more. Ariana Marsh, Harper's BAZAAR, "The Culture Lover’s December Guide," 2 Dec. 2020 Over five days in October, Kaskade performed six sets, including a special Halloween matinee set for first responders. Taylor Mims, Billboard, "Kaskade Talks 'Adjusting Expectations' for Sold Out Drive-In Series," 5 Nov. 2020 In addition to the traditional Friday and Saturday evening shows, the symphony is adding a Thursday night show and a Saturday matinee. Sean P. Means, The Salt Lake Tribune, "Violinist Pinchas Zukerman added to Utah Symphony line-up, for shows Nov. 19-21," 2 Nov. 2020 So even on normally busy Friday or Saturday nights, the crowd size in auditoriums is going to feel more like a weekday matinee. Julie Hinds, Detroit Free Press, "What to expect when movie theaters reopen in metro Detroit after seven months of shutdown," 9 Oct. 2020 Tickets are $69 for evening performances, $62 for the matinee. Marc Bona, cleveland, "Gervasi Vineyard teams with Cleveland Ballet for performances," 25 Sep. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'matinee.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of matinee

1848, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for matinee

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

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Time Traveler for matinee

Time Traveler

The first known use of matinee was in 1848

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Statistics for matinee

Last Updated

30 Dec 2020

Cite this Entry

“Matinee.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for matinee


How to pronounce matinee (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of matinee

: a play, movie, etc., that is performed or shown in the afternoon


variants: or matinée \ ˌma-​tə-​ˈnā \

Kids Definition of matinee

: a musical or dramatic performance in the afternoon

More from Merriam-Webster on matinee

Nglish: Translation of matinee for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of matinee for Arabic Speakers

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