sym·​po·​sium | \ sim-ˈpō-zē-əm also -zh(ē-)əm How to pronounce symposium (audio) \
plural symposia\ -​zē-​ə How to pronounce symposia (audio) , -​zh(ē-​)ə \ or symposiums

Definition of symposium

1a : a convivial party (as after a banquet in ancient Greece) with music and conversation
b : a social gathering at which there is free interchange of ideas
2a : a formal meeting at which several specialists deliver short addresses on a topic or on related topics — compare colloquium
b : a collection of opinions on a subject especially : one published by a periodical

Keep scrolling for more

Did You Know?

It was drinking more than thinking that drew people to the original symposia and that gave us the word symposium. The ancient Greeks would often follow a banquet with a drinking party they called a "symposion." That name came from "sympinein," a verb that combines pinein, meaning "to drink," with the prefix syn-, meaning "together." Originally, English speakers only used "symposium" to refer to such an ancient Greek party, but in the 18th century British gentlemen's clubs started using the word for gatherings in which intellectual conversation was fueled by drinking. By the 19th century, "symposium" had gained the more sober sense we know today, describing meetings in which the focus is more on the exchange of ideas and less on imbibing.

Examples of symposium in a Sentence

Professors and graduate students attended the symposium. recently attended a daylong symposium on new methods of chromatography

Recent Examples on the Web

Goldfinger said at a symposium for journalists in Newport that included a tour of the construction project. Washington Post, "Critics: Oregon courts disaster with new tsunami-zone law," 16 Aug. 2019 These women had apparently both been there, at the symposium. The Washington Post, The Mercury News, "The case of the Photoshopped female CEOs," 13 June 2019 She had just delivered an invited lecture about the discovery of gluons at a symposium to honor the 50th birthday of the Standard Model. Quanta Magazine, "Three Major Physics Discoveries and Counting," 18 July 2018 This is a big deal, and will be celebrated as such — with exhibitions in this idyllic city and elsewhere, symposiums, and opera, concert and drama productions elaborate enough to require a bump in the already generous budget. Zachary Woolfe, New York Times, "Nearly 100, the Salzburg Festival Doesn’t Wait to Celebrate," 16 Aug. 2019 Griffin spoke to the symposium Wednesday night and opened the floor to questions from the defense and missile industry figures in attendance. Lee Roop |, al, "What industry insiders asked a top U.S. defense official," 8 Aug. 2019 Atiyah helped to end a period of estrangement between physics and math, which Freeman Dyson (who at 95 is safely referred to as a living legend) talked about at the symposium. Steve Mirsky, Scientific American, "A New Book Examines the Relationship between Math and Physics," 3 Aug. 2019 The symposium acknowledges people who have made significant contributions in promoting biliteracy -- proficiency in English and a second language -- for county students. Laura Groch, San Diego Union-Tribune, "County educators, staff honored at biliteracy symposium," 23 July 2019 This free, two-day event offers workshops, symposiums, receptions and networking opportunities July 15-16 at the Indiana Convention Center. Chris Sims, Indianapolis Star, "Everything you need to know about Indiana Black Expo's Summer Celebration in Indianapolis," 10 July 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'symposium.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of symposium

1711, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for symposium

Latin, from Greek symposion, from sympinein to drink together, from syn- + pinein to drink — more at potable

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about symposium

Listen to Our Podcast about symposium

Statistics for symposium

Last Updated

18 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for symposium

The first known use of symposium was in 1711

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for symposium



English Language Learners Definition of symposium

: a formal meeting at which experts discuss a particular topic
: a collection of articles on a particular subject

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on symposium

What made you want to look up symposium? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


concealment of treason or felony

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

The Exceptions Quiz III

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!