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

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 end of the 18th 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 An academic symposium launches this inaugural festival, but the emphasis quickly turns to performance with a Friday evening concert under the main stage Connecticut River Museum tent. Patricia Harris And David Lyon,, 2 June 2022 In mid-December, France’s finance ministry hosted, for the first time, an international symposium on the economics of slavery, with conferences focusing specifically on the history of Haiti’s payments to France. New York Times, 20 May 2022 An energy symposium in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, last month. Timothy Puko, WSJ, 10 Mar. 2022 According to the Silicon Valley Historical Association, SRI hosted the country’s first symposium on air pollution in 1949. Timothy Noah, The New Republic, 10 Feb. 2022 In November, the UC San Diego Center for Healthy Aging hosted a daylong symposium focused on healthy aging in the era of pandemics. David L. Coddon, San Diego Union-Tribune, 16 Dec. 2021 The night before Biden’s speech, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, completing a round of speeches, addressed a symposium for student journalists to defend press freedoms. David Lautersenior Editor, Los Angeles Times, 10 June 2022 Why: Prada is highlighting the inherent contrast between the nature and design worlds with a three-day symposium running concurrently with Salone. Kevin Leblanc, ELLE, 8 June 2022 The program also includes works by Elisabet Torras Aguilera and Ensemble Español artistic director Irma Suárez Ruiz, plus special performances by several symposium speakers, La Lupi among them. Lauren Warnecke, Chicago Tribune, 8 June 2022 See More

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.

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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The first known use of symposium was in 1711

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Last Updated

26 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Symposium.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Jun. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on symposium

Nglish: Translation of symposium for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of symposium for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about symposium


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