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

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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 Other virtual events include a youth summit on Jan. 18 at 9 a.m., a wreath ceremony on Jan. 19 at 10 a.m., a job fair on Jan. 20 starting at 10 a.m. and an equity symposium on Jan. 22 starting at 8:30 a.m. Dallas News, "Martin Luther King Day tributes go virtual," 15 Jan. 2021 Claire sat for much of October at a hallway desk or stood in the corner near windows in class—the school’s tactic to help avoid exposure that could keep her from a marching-band symposium. Robbie Whelan, WSJ, "Schools Rethink Covid Rules. ‘We’re Over-Quarantining Kids Like Crazy.’," 24 Dec. 2020 Jerome Powell will be speaking as part of the Fed's annual economic symposium, which is usually held in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where past Fed officials have made big market-moving announcements. Stan Choe, Star Tribune, "More blowout profit from tech companies push S&P 500 higher," 26 Aug. 2020 The Schweitzer symposium culminated in a free concert for which special sections of seats had been reserved for, among others groups, members of the city’s homeless population as well as survivors of domestic violence. Jeremy Eichler,, "Music’s first responder: How Yo-Yo Ma answered the pandemic’s call and consoled a reeling nation," 27 Jan. 2021 Yvette Simpson, former Cincinnati city councilwoman and the current CEO of Democracy for America, will moderate the symposium that runs from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., according to a press release from the Center for Closing the Health Gap. Jeanne Houck, The Enquirer, "Maxine Waters to speak at Ohio's first Black Women’s Health Symposium on Saturday," 2 Oct. 2020 In addition to their online classwork, students attend a twice-a-year symposium at the Rockville campus. Washington Post, "Medical cannabis master’s program at University of Maryland sees growth since launch," 18 Dec. 2020 Flores and Lynn, who met roughly two years ago at a coaching symposium, shared their mutual respect before Sunday’s matchup. Safid Deen,, "Dolphins' Brian Flores vs. Chargers' Anthony Lynn: Sunday matchup shows NFL needs more work on diversity," 13 Nov. 2020 The symposium is partially funded by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Louisiana Office of Cultural Development, and the St. Tammany Parish Commission on Cultural Affairs. Keith Spera,, "Songwriting symposium in Mandeville on Saturday to replace Ozone Music Festival," 14 Oct. 2020

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.

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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

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Time Traveler for symposium

Time Traveler

The first known use of symposium was in 1711

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Last Updated

14 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Symposium.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Feb. 2021.

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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

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