soiree

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

Definition of soiree 

: a party or reception held in the evening

Keep scrolling for more

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
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

The outlet also published a photo that showed Disick looking flirty with a mystery woman at the intimate soiree. Maria Pasquini, PEOPLE.com, "Scott Disick Cozies Up to Another Woman as Sources Say He’s Still Dating Sofia Richie," 1 June 2018 Hamilton appropriated another $2,500 to buy a table at the gala for 100 Black Men of Louisville Inc. and $1,200 for 10 guests to attend the annual Derby soiree for the Kentucky Minority Scholarship Fund Inc. last year, according to public records. Phillip M. Bailey, The Courier-Journal, "Investigation continues into Derby spending by Metro Council Democrat," 21 June 2018 Even so, many of Trump’s White House aides and spokespeople would be attending the soiree to share a toast with the enemy. Mark Leibovich, New York Times, "The Risky Business of Speaking for President Trump," 23 May 2018 Many Islamic women in Philadelphia and elsewhere have been attending the all-women soirees to catch up with girlfriends and get a jump-start on shopping for Eid al-Fitr, the annual celebration that marks the end of Ramadan. Elizabeth Wellington, Philly.com, "Philly's Muslim fashionistas will spend this weekend at a pop-up shop just for them | Elizabeth Wellington," 10 May 2018 This year's Saucy Locution MoonPie is the rightful property of the gent leading the Tommy Morse Band at the Order of Juno's soiree. The Masked Observer, AL.com, "Masked Observer muses on Mellow MoonPies and Carnival's unwavering spirit," 16 Feb. 2018 With a nod to the Cinco de Mayo date, the cafeteria was decorated with colorful pinatas. Thanked for a spectacular soiree were Chairwoman Christine Breaux and event stylist Brandy Pinedo. Robert Rhoden, NOLA.com, "Household hazardous waste to be collected in St. Tammany," 21 May 2018 The guest list is a modest 130 to 150, making for a more intimate soiree than many state dinners in previous administrations. Emily Heil, BostonGlobe.com, "‘She has a design background:’ Melania Trump prepares to host state dinner," 24 Apr. 2018 For their fine jewelry collection on Friday evening, the designers chose the New York Public Library for a soiree and dinner. Hamish Bowles, Vogue, "Hamish Bowles Goes Inside Dolce & Gabbana’s Alta Moda and Sartoria Events in New York City," 9 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about soiree

Dictionary Entries near soiree

soilure

soily

so inclined

soiree

so I see

Soissons

so it seems

Statistics for soiree

Last Updated

11 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for soiree

The first known use of soiree was in 1802

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for soiree

soiree

noun

English Language Learners Definition of soiree

: a formal party that is usually at night

More from Merriam-Webster on soiree

See words that rhyme with soiree

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about soiree

Comments on soiree

What made you want to look up soiree? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

alleviating pain or harshness

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Musical Words Quiz

  • gramophone
  • Which word describes a musical performance marked by the absence of instrumental accompaniment?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!