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 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 What remains to be seen, nearly everyone at the symposium agreed, is what the long-term prognosis will be for trees damaged by the heat dome. oregonlive, 22 Nov. 2021 Yields, which fall when bond prices rise, dropped immediately after the Fed released the text of Mr. Powell’s remarks, which were prepared for delivery at a virtual symposium hosted by the Kansas City Fed. Sam Goldfarb, WSJ, 27 Aug. 2021 Four hours to the east, Trump supporters have assembled in Sioux Falls, S.D., this week at a symposium hosted by MyPillow founder Mike Lindell, one of the most prominent promoters of the false claim that the 2020 election was stolen. Anchorage Daily News, 12 Aug. 2021 Nearly 50 tight ends got together at the symposium, which Olsen helped organize with George Kittle of the San Francisco 49ers and Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs. Brad Biggs,, 27 Sep. 2021 Since then, city officials have tried to restore the garden, said Matthews, a professor of anthropology at Trinity who will speak at the symposium about three garden sculptures. Elena Bruess, San Antonio Express-News, 13 Sep. 2021 Fed Chair Jerome Powell is scheduled to speak at the central bank's annual symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, later Friday. Annabelle Liang, ajc, 27 Aug. 2021 At McGill University, his alma mater, administrators held a symposium in February and have appointed a task force to evaluate the naming practices for buildings there. John Wilkens, San Diego Union-Tribune, 14 Aug. 2021 He was hired by the new company only two weeks ago and his first recommendation to his bosses was coming to this symposium. Lee Roop |, al, 13 Aug. 2021

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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The first known use of symposium was in 1711

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Last Updated

29 Nov 2021

Cite this Entry

“Symposium.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Dec. 2021.

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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

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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