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

There is, however, one crucial difference between these soirees and the ones preceding the Super Bowl. Daniel Rapaport,, "TennisCon: An Inside Look Into the Frenetic Week Before the U.S. Open," 28 Aug. 2019 Until then, let the rest of us bow our heads and pray for a moratorium on these needlessly stressful poolside soirees in which we are deprived of cover. Robin Givhan, Washington Post, "Pool parties are soul-crushing spectacles of half-naked strangers posing next to an artificial swamp," 5 Aug. 2019 The monarch threw grand daytime soirees to mingle with Britain's upper class. Elise Taylor, Vogue, "Even Queen Elizabeth Has This Party Anxiety," 22 May 2019 Repeat party-goers know that the soiree's swag bag is not to be overlooked. Amber Elliott, Houston Chronicle, "Daniella Rodriguez and fellow 'Sizzling Summer Soiree' co-chairs raise $22,000 for Dress for Success," 23 Aug. 2019 The indoor spaces are paired to a wide, landscaped backyard, into which the Elliotts’ soirees unfold by way of a sliding window wall, from a Jenn-Air kitchen. Mark Samuelson, The Denver Post, "With a big discount for being west of Sheridan, sleek new-urban home has a Highland feel, $1.175M," 16 Aug. 2019 The late-night-to-early-morning soiree tapped into the idea that the Haunted Mansion has become something of a guiding light for its devoted fans. Todd Martens, Los Angeles Times, "At Haunted Mansion 50th anniversary bash, Disneyland stays weird," 9 Aug. 2019 The head of the Mykonos Biennale, a renowned art festival in Greece, attended the soiree last week and was apparently taken by the work of Alvarado, who was also there. Tom Benning, Dallas News, "What does San Angelo have that Dallas doesn’t? Here’s how the West Texas town ended up on the global stage," 25 June 2019 In addition to The Knot’s Southhampton soiree, the soon-to-be Mr. and Mrs. celebrated their impending wedding in June with a romantic engagement photo shoot in New York City. Morgan M. Evans,, "Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay Wants Mike Johnson to Become the First Black Bachelor," 6 Aug. 2019

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

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Last Updated

11 Sep 2019

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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

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one from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

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