Word of the Day : September 1, 2018

symposium

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noun sim-POH-zee-um

Definition

1 a : 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

2 a : 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

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

"Scholars, culinary historians, writers, and chefs come together for this symposium … that chronicles the fascinating history of beef in the region." — Saveur, October 2009

"In 1977 [astronomer Beatrice Tinsley] organized and hosted a symposium that brought together the world's experts on the evolution of stars and galaxies. The transcribed proceedings … have become a classic reference for researchers." — The New York Times, 18 July 2018



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