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

The last grand soiree of the season (the summer exodus begins right about now) raised a record $450,000 for the museum’s programming. Roxanne Roberts, Washington Post, "Hillwood’s gala was black and white, just like its new photo exhibit," 5 June 2019 The soiree took place at Los Angeles hot spot Warwick on Sunset Boulevard and celebrity party planner Mindy Weiss organized the celebration. Nicole Saunders, Harper's BAZAAR, "Beyoncé Sang "Happy Birthday" to Diana Ross at Her 75th Birthday Party," 28 Mar. 2019 Celebrities start getting ready as early as 10 A.M. for the evening soiree. Chrissy Rutherford, Harper's BAZAAR, "Bella Hadid Stepped Out in a Pre-Camp Look Before Tonight's Met Gala," 6 May 2019 The star has worn it with everything from jeans and a tank top on the streets of Manhattan last May to a flirty Jacquemus top and plum trousers for September’s It Girl’s soiree. Vogue, "Emily Ratajkowski Puts a New Twist on Old Celine," 19 Apr. 2019 The raindrops mimicked diamonds last night as Cartier was setting the final touches on their latest grand soiree, the Precious Garage—a celebration of the house’s Écrou and Juste un Clou collections. Edward Barsamian, Vogue, "Cartier’s Precious Garage Brings Out the Stars and the Bling," 7 Sep. 2018 In between all the parties, movie premieres and late-night soirees at celebrity hangouts like Elaine's, Smith found time to host an ever-widening array of charity fund-raisers. Sam Dangremond, Town & Country, "Legendary Gossip Columnist Liz Smith Dies at 94," 13 Nov. 2017 As much as those soirees may include needling from her, Ms. Brown’s daytime summits with publishers tend to be more overtly contentious. Nellie Bowles, New York Times, "Is Facebook’s Campbell Brown a Force to Be Reckoned With? Or Is She Fake News?," 21 Apr. 2018 Ali Fitzgerald illustrates a step-by-step guide to throwing the perfect modernist soiree. Ali Fitzgerald, New York Times, "How-to Entertain Like the Avant-Garde," 11 May 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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Dictionary Entries near soiree



so inclined


so I see


so it seems

Statistics for soiree

Last Updated

19 Jun 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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