sym·po·sium | \ sim-ˈpō-zē-əm also -zh(ē-)əm \
plural symposia\-zē-ə, -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

c : discussion

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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

Both are now doctors themselves and attended the symposium with their wives and three of Eli’s adult children. Emanuella Grinberg, Smithsonian, "When a Bavarian Monastery Provided a Home to Jewish Refugees," 11 July 2018 Scott’s estate is working to change that with the first ScottWorks | The Raymond Scott Festival, a day-long symposium announced Thursday morning. Randall Roberts,, "Raymond Scott, the musical genius you probably don't know, is getting his own L.A. festival," 28 June 2018 Since the first symposium kicked off in 2014—just four years ago!—attendance has ballooned by 200 percent. Aarian Marshall, WIRED, "Home From the Honeymoon, the Self-Driving Car Industry Faces Reality," 13 July 2018 School for Advanced Studies Rocio Olivia, a graduate of the School for Advanced Studies, received a Fulbright Research and Open Study Fellowship in Art History and will host a symposium in Peru to promote the study of art this November. Adrianne Richardson, miamiherald, "Credit union awards 15 four-year, full-tuition scholarships," 3 July 2018 Last month, New York University in New York City hosted a symposium called Canonical Computations in Brains and Machines, where neuroscientists and AI experts discussed overlaps in the way humans and machines think. Matthew Hutson, Science | AAAS, "Could artificial intelligence get depressed and have hallucinations?," 9 Apr. 2018 Among the topics discussed at the symposium was the role of the monks themselves in the rehabilitation process. Emanuella Grinberg, Smithsonian, "When a Bavarian Monastery Provided a Home to Jewish Refugees," 11 July 2018 The mood at Bäckaskog Castle in southern Sweden should have been upbeat when chemists and physicists gathered there for a symposium in May 2016. Edwin Cartlidge, Scientific American, "The Battle Behind the Periodic Table’s Latest Additions," 13 June 2018 Mary Anne Jackson of Children’s Mercy said at the symposium. Andy Marso, kansascity, "Kansas City's two measles outbreaks are over. But what did they cost taxpayers?," 11 June 2018

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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Last Updated

18 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for symposium

The first known use of symposium was in 1711

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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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alleviating pain or harshness

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