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

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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

Recently, dozens of hoteliers came to a symposium in nearby Davos, where the Jewish federation explained about some of the sensitivities of the haredi guests. Cnaan Liphshiz,, "In the Swiss Alps, locals and haredi Orthodox tourists find ways to get along," 2 July 2019 These initiatives will increase overall medical knowledge, combat health disparities, focus on prevention, and share state-of-the-art techniques and therapies through hands-on programs, lectures and symposiums., "Lyndhurst philanthropist Roe Green donates $14 million to University Hospitals’ global health efforts," 1 July 2019 Nearly 600 people attended the symposium, county spokeswoman Cynthia Mumby said. Christine Condon,, ""Beautiful Boy" Nic Sheff shares his story at Harford addiction and recovery symposium," 27 June 2019 In spite of the outbreak, an antivaccine symposium held in the latter drew hundreds of attendees. The Scientific American Staff, Scientific American, "The U.S. Needs to Tighten Vaccination Mandates," 24 June 2019 Get our daily newsletter The symposium’s participants were wise to that hoax, of course, but not entirely to a related myth. The Economist, "Baseball and exceptionalism," 8 June 2019 The library will also host a symposium Wednesday with the president’s daughter, Caroline Kennedy, the former ambassador to Japan, that will focus on science and technological initiatives, and the future of space exploration. John Hilliard,, "JFK Library launches Moonshot app to inspire ‘the next generation’," 16 June 2019 When Raul Ruiz took to the podium last year at Self-Help Graphics for a history symposium, many in the packed house were at first perplexed. Gustavo Arellano,, "Raul Ruiz, journalist and activist for the Chicano movement in L.A., dies at 78," 15 June 2019 Tucker claims in the lawsuit that his motivation to organize a symposium on racial discrimination and harassment came after witnessing or being the target racial harassment at the school. Robert Garrison, The Denver Post, "Former teacher files racial discrimination lawsuit against Arvada’s Faith Christian Academy," 12 June 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.

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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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Statistics for symposium

Last Updated

10 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for symposium

The first known use of symposium was in 1711

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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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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).


appealing forcibly to the mind or reason

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