soiree

noun
soi·​ree | \swä-ˈrā \
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

Last night on the Champs-Élysées, department store Galeries Lafayette hosted a lavish soiree in anticipation of its upcoming opening. Vogue, "Galeries Lafayette Celebrates Its New Flagship in Grand Parisian Style," 2 July 2018 And in Washington, a pattern was set that has held true from that fete to this one, which will be the first state soiree hosted by the president and first lady Melania Trump. Steve Hendrix, Washington Post, "‘Brilliant beyond all precedent’: The first White House state dinner for the king of Hawaii," 24 Apr. 2018 The opening night soiree featured a curator's talk, music from Javier Olondo and Soul Samba, a mezcal tasting and food from Arana. Sue Strachan, NOLA.com, "Newcomb Art Museum party celebrates clay exhibitions, including famed Newcomb Pottery," 15 Feb. 2018 Eugenie looked equally stunning at the summer soiree in a one shoulder floral dress paired with black plants, again a striking change from her white Ascot look from earlier in the day. Kara Thompson, Town & Country, "Princess Beatrice Pulled Off Two Glamorous Looks In One Day," 20 June 2018 Pomp and pageantry in Carefree What: English Rose Tea Room owner Jo Gemmill is hosting a daylong soiree where guests can don formal attire (complete with tiaras), sip tea and watch wedding coverage in the outdoor pavilion. Garrett Mitchell, azcentral, "Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's royal wedding: Where to watch in Phoenix," 14 May 2018 Joining Karan de Felice in hosting this weekend’s grand opening dinner soiree was Daniel Benedict, who, again with Alessia Antinori, was welcomed to the Hamptons in grand style. Vogue, "A Haute Start to Summer: Gabby Karan de Felice and Daniel Benedict Host a Dinner for Antinori," 4 June 2018 The pastel colored dress has a light floral pattern all throughout, setting the mood for the summery soiree. Kara Thompson, Town & Country, "Princess Beatrice Stuns In Pastel Blue at Royal Ascot," 19 June 2018 Gigi Hadid, Cardi B, Paris Jackson, Daniel Kaluuya, Frances Bean Cobain, Charli XCX, Delilah and Amelia Hamlin and Diplo were among the guests who turned up for the late-night soiree. Ingrid Schmidt, The Hollywood Reporter, "Gigi Hadid Models H&M’s Just-Announced Moschino Collab at Coachella Party," 16 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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Dictionary Entries near soiree

soilure

soily

so inclined

soiree

so I see

Soissons

so it seems

Statistics for soiree

Last Updated

6 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for soiree

The first known use of soiree was in 1802

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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

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Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about soiree

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