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

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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

This year’s symposium was a quieter affair than on some past occasions. Paul Kiernan, WSJ, "Reporter’s Notebook: Ten Years After the Crisis, Jackson Hole Symposium Is a Quieter Affair," 26 Aug. 2018 In April, Wilderness Travel will host a four-day conservation symposium, with lectures by leaders in the field and excursions (like cheetah tracking), followed by a safari ( Christian L. Wright, WSJ, "The 10 Most Intriguing Travel Destinations for 2019," 23 Oct. 2018 The symposium is the ninth in a series of similar gatherings that began in 1995.... Monitor Editors, The Christian Science Monitor, "Pompeo’s Iran speech backs European leaders into a corner," 2 June 2018 Those are probably going to take buses to the last scheduled stop for the caravan, a migrant rights symposium in central Puebla state. Washington Post, "Migrant caravan stops in field in southern Mexico," 2 Apr. 2018 Those are probably going to take buses to the last scheduled stop for the caravan, a migrant rights symposium in central Puebla state. Mark Stevenson,, "Migrant caravan stops in field in southern Mexico," 2 Apr. 2018 New to the symposium this year, was the I’M POWER’D Youth Summit, a series of workshops developed for teens. Staff Report, The Aegis, "Harford holds annual drug prevention and treament symposium," 21 June 2018 Emery recently participated in a symposium on the Interwoven oral history program at the Nordic Museum which attracted about 70 participants, many of whom also shared their experiences of mixed Native American and non-Native heritage. The Seattle Times, "Create an oral history to share your family’s experience," 23 Oct. 2018 The January symposium identified community programming as one way to combat poverty. Yadira Sanchez Olson, Lake County News-Sun, "Mentor tells Zion summer-work teens to control their destiny and 'watch out for those dream-snatchers'," 29 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

20 Feb 2019

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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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excited commotion or publicity

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