Definition of soiree
: a party or reception held in the evening
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
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.
Origin and Etymology of soiree
French soirée evening period, evening party, from Medieval 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
First Known Use: 1802
SOIREE Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of soiree for English Language Learners
: a formal party that is usually at night
Seen and Heard
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