soi·​ree | \ swä-ˈrā How to pronounce soiree (audio) \
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 Because of coronavirus restrictions the all-day soiree that draws a queue wrapping around the brewpub will have a different format. Marc Bona, cleveland, "Great Lakes Brewing Co. First Pour reservations filled; Christmas Ale packages offered," 2 Oct. 2020 Jim Parsons stars as Michael, the host of the all-male soiree who tries to conceal his self-hatred under Hermes cashmere that still isn’t paid off. Charles Mcnulty, Detroit Free Press, "Jim Parsons heads cast of Netflix’s solid remake of gay classic ‘The Boys in the Band’," 30 Sep. 2020 McGuire faces up to a year in jail and since being bailed out has continued to post YouTube videos about his soiree onto Discovery Island. Zachary Halaschak, Washington Examiner, "WATCH: Police with guns drawn comb Disney World’s abandoned island searching for trespasser," 1 Sep. 2020 But is there any way to host a safe sweet soiree in the middle of a global pandemic? Karla Walsh, Better Homes & Gardens, "Is it Safe to Have a Cookie Exchange This Christmas?," 3 Sep. 2020 The splashy Osiris soiree — held at the Arthur R. Outlaw Mobile Convention Center — annually pulls a dress-to-the-nines crowd of more than 2,000 revelers. Michael Dumas, al, "Cancellation spurs fear for 2021 Mardi Gras fate," 27 Aug. 2020 The timing of his exit before her big soiree made their romantic troubles seem melodramatic. Susan Shapiro, Longreads, "How I Got My Shrink Back," 10 Aug. 2020 Good hosts will never make a guest feel bad about not attending their soiree. Hannah Herrera Greenspan,, "Social Graces: Someone you know has recovered from coronavirus and wants to hang out. Here’s how to handle.," 5 Aug. 2020 Missy Herndon, president and CEO of Interfaith of The Woodlands, said calling off the annual soiree that honors special people who have made a significant contribution to both the township and its residents was a difficult decision, but necessary. Jeff Forward, Houston Chronicle, "Interfaith The Woodlands cancels annual gala, awards event," 10 July 2020

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

1793, 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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Time Traveler for soiree

Time Traveler

The first known use of soiree was in 1793

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Statistics for soiree

Last Updated

6 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Soiree.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for soiree


How to pronounce soiree (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of soiree

: a formal party that is usually at night

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Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for soiree Encyclopedia article about soiree

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