soi·​ree | \swä-ˈrā \
variants: or soirée

Definition of soiree 

: a party or reception held in the evening

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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 soiree in a Sentence

After the interview she took me to a coffee-and-cake soiree at a wealthy student's house. — Thomas Keneally, The Tyrant's Novel, 2004 Ostensible grownups can be reduced to screaming toddlers over who gets the credit for bringing in a major donor's gift—and thus gets the inside track for a better seat at the next big soirée. Bring into this piranha tank an attractive, ambitious, wealthy woman who made an almost instant connection with the President and his wife, and the knives start flashing. — Viveca Novak, Time, 14 June 1999 Mariah Carey's voyage into pop stardom begins on a fateful Friday evening in 1988 when she and dance songbird Brenda K. Starr—for whom Carey was a background singer—attend a music industry soiree. — Larry Flick, CD Review, December 1994 a fashionable soiree at a fancy hotel
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Recent Examples on the Web

The gifts included luxury private-plane flights, soirees in Paris hotels, and free accommodation at a Dominican Republican villa—where Mr. Menendez stayed not once or twice but 19 times. Kimberley A. Strassel, WSJ, "Smiling at Corruption," 18 Oct. 2018 Patterns of nature is theme of Bob Jones Nature Center annual party The beauty and wonder of nature’s complex designs was the inspiration for the annual fundraising soiree hosted by the Bob Jones Nature Center. Faye Reeder, star-telegram, "Museum quality needlework tells timeless stories in Needlepoint event at Thistle Hill | Fort Worth Star-Telegram," 9 Feb. 2018 The answer is either borrowing from your neighbors — people love to do a good deed — or buying recyclable disposable versions, which won't clutter up your kitchen for the months or years in between a soiree. Sophie Hines, House Beautiful, "6 Golden Rules for Decluttering Your Kitchen," 31 July 2017 Last night the Italian fashion house and Vogue cohosted an intimate cocktail soiree to celebrate their latest collection, Lights Out, a monochromatic riff off of 10 of the brand’s iconic styles in all black. Vogue, "Prada and Vogue Host a Stylish Party to Celebrate the Italian Brand’s Lights Out Collection," 5 Oct. 2018 Travis Scott and Kanye West joined their women at the bash as well, while NBA star Blake Griffin, who was previously linked to Kendall, and Kourtney's ex, Scott Disick, were also spotted at the Hollywood soiree. Morgan M. Evans, Fox News, "Kylie Jenner's 21st bash shut down by cops; Instagram model wheeled out on stretcher," 11 Aug. 2018 But according to a friend, she has not been given an invitation to the exclusive evening soiree, where 200 guests, the Spice Girls among included, will join them at Frogmore House. Katie Nicholl, Vanities, "Prince Harry’s Ex Chelsy Davy Is Feeling Snubbed from the Wedding Reception," 11 May 2018 Last night on the Champs-Élysées, department store Galeries Lafayette hosted a lavish soiree in anticipation of its upcoming opening. Vogue, "Galeries Lafayette Celebrates Its New Flagship in Grand Parisian Style," 2 July 2018 And in Washington, a pattern was set that has held true from that fete to this one, which will be the first state soiree hosted by the president and first lady Melania Trump. Steve Hendrix, Washington Post, "‘Brilliant beyond all precedent’: The first White House state dinner for the king of Hawaii," 24 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'soiree.' 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 soiree

1802, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for soiree

French soirée evening period, evening party, from Middle French, from soir evening, from Latin sero at a late hour, from serus late; akin to Old Irish sír long, lasting and perhaps to Old English sīth late — more at since

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Dictionary Entries near soiree



so inclined


so I see


so it seems

Statistics for soiree

Last Updated

4 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for soiree

The first known use of soiree was in 1802

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English Language Learners Definition of soiree

: a formal party that is usually at night

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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with soiree Encyclopedia article about soiree

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to make faulty or ineffective

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