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

Definition of soiree

: a party or reception held in the evening

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 Selling Sunset star went all out for the sweet soiree — including getting cookies printed with photos of a young El Moussa! Hannah Chubb,, 23 Aug. 2021 President Biden, who was Obama’s vice president, will not be attending the soiree, where A-list celebrity friends are expected to gather at the nearly 30-acre oceanside estate, a White House spokesperson told Axios. Washington Post, 2 Aug. 2021 By Thursday afternoon, the French had cancelled an embassy soiree to celebrate the U.S.-French alliance dating back to the American Revolutionary War. Deirdre Shesgreen, USA TODAY, 16 Sep. 2021 Meanwhile, Victoria Konefal's Ciara poses as a princess who goes to a fancy soiree that ends up being a swingers party. Gerrad Hall,, 14 Sep. 2021 Complete the setting with glitter pumpkins, spiders, skulls, candleholders, and other seasonal accents to ensure your soiree is a spirited success. Sarah Lemire, Better Homes & Gardens, 31 Aug. 2021 Louis Vuitton followed suit, hosting a soiree celebrating all things cinematic. Lauren Sanchez, Vogue, 14 July 2021 According to the report in The Hill, guests to Obama’s birthday party will be asked to take a COVID-19 test before attending the soiree., 2 Aug. 2021 The celluloid soiree returned this July after last year’s cancellation because of the pandemic. New York Times, 23 July 2021

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

1793, 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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so inclined


so I see

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Last Updated

7 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Soiree.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Nov. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of soiree

: a formal party that is usually at night

More from Merriam-Webster on soiree

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


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