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

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 And in keeping with the history of the original location in Minneapolis as one of Minnesota’s first speakeasies, soirees are planned. Nancy Ngo, Twin Cities, "West St. Paul’s 5-8 Grill & Tap celebrates anniversary with Juicy Lucy specials and more," 31 July 2019 The sophisticated, modern design of 1810 West Bell set the stage for a successful gathering of clients, real estate agents and friends in the River Oaks Shopping Area for a summer open house soiree. Houston Chronicle, "Firm hosts summer open house soiree," 21 July 2019 The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe will host its fourth annual Hats, Heels & Hooves, an over-the-top soiree of culinary cuisine, festive cocktails, curated entertainment and show-stopping hats. San Diego Union-Tribune, "The Dish: Opening Day tops this week’s events," 11 July 2019 Feeling inspired to throw a springtime soiree of your own? Marley Marius, Vogue, "How to Throw a Spring Party, Four Seasons Restaurant-Style," 5 May 2019 Bacon and his pregnant wife, smoky-voiced singer Greta Keller, hosted a soiree that included cocktails for 150 guests followed by a sit-down supper for 50 at Castle Hill, their home in the Hollywood Hills. Wendy Grossman Kantor,, "Who killed the Masked Marvel?," 27 June 2019 Cousins North West, who turned six, and Penelope Disick, who will turn seven in July, were the guests of honour at a Candy Land-themed soiree on Saturday. Alexis Reliford,, "North West & Penelope Disick’s Candy Land Birthday Was A Sweet Dream — Literally," 18 June 2019 The wrestlers and models, who grew up in Scottsdale, will join celebrity chef Todd English in hosting the $135-per-person soiree. Kellie Hwang, azcentral, "Mingle with The Bella Twins, Guy Fieri at swanky Nirvana food festival," 19 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.

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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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Learn More about soiree

Dictionary Entries near soiree



so inclined


so I see


so it seems

Statistics for soiree

Last Updated

14 Aug 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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More from Merriam-Webster on soiree

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with soiree

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

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to make or get by devious means

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