soi·​ree swä-ˈrā How to pronounce soiree (audio)
variants or soirée
: 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.

Example Sentences

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
Recent Examples on the Web However, some of you may remember a decade ago when the krewe threw what still stands as the greatest Valentine’s night soiree in Carnival history. al, 21 Feb. 2023 Gathering in New York City for the Cinema Society soiree, Sarandon was joined by her fellow cast members Roberts and Gere as well as writer-director Michael Jacobs and producer Vincent Newman. Elizabeth Taylor, Variety, 18 Jan. 2023 Tickets cost $100 each, with all proceeds going toward the continued recovery of participating RAPCF restaurants to cover the cost of staging the soiree. Amy Drew Thompson,, 19 Oct. 2021 Before the soiree, McCartney sat down with The Hollywood Reporter at the Polo Lounge in Beverly Hills Hotel to talk about sustainability, the upcoming coronation of King Charles III and more. Ingrid Schmidt, The Hollywood Reporter, 3 Feb. 2023 Amidst the bustling soiree, White Lotus darling Jennifer Coolidge hoisted her award above her head alongside Mike White like a Super Bowl champion. Concetta Ciarlo, Vogue, 11 Jan. 2023 But as longtime fans may know, this isn't the only time she's donned a v-neck outfit to a Hollywood soiree. Adrianna Freedman, Good Housekeeping, 10 Jan. 2023 Musician Jon Batiste, the evening's entertainer, had already promised to light up the black tie soiree. Maureen Groppe, USA TODAY, 2 Dec. 2022 Party in the West Loop upstairs bar with a black-tie soiree featuring a three-hour premium drink package from 9 p.m. to midnight, passed bites from Komo, music from DJ Mauricio and a live conga player, and a Champagne toast. Samantha Nelson, Chicago Tribune, 22 Dec. 2022 See More

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.

Word History


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

First Known Use

1793, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of soiree was in 1793

Dictionary Entries Near soiree

Cite this Entry

“Soiree.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition


variants or soirée
: an evening party or social gathering

More from Merriam-Webster on soiree

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