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[pahr-tee] /ˈpɑr ti/
noun, plural parties.
a social gathering, as of invited guests at a private home, for conversation, refreshments, entertainment, etc.:
a cocktail party.
a group gathered for a special purpose or task:
a fishing party; a search party.
a detachment, squad, or detail of troops assigned to perform some particular mission or service.
a group of persons with common purposes or opinions who support one side of a dispute, question, debate, etc.
a group of persons with common political opinions and purposes organized for gaining political influence and governmental control and for directing government policy:
the Republican Party; the Democratic Party.
the system of taking sides on public or political questions or the like.
attachment or devotion to one side or faction; partisanship:
to put considerations of party first.
  1. one of the litigants in a legal proceeding; a plaintiff or defendant in a suit.
  2. a signatory to a legal instrument.
  3. a person participating in or otherwise privy to a crime.
a person or group that participates in some action, affair, plan, etc.; participant:
He was a party to the merger deal.
the person under consideration; a specific individual:
Look at the party in the green velvet shorts.
a person or, usually, two or more persons together patronizing a restaurant, attending a social or cultural function, etc.:
The headwaiter asked how many were in our party; a party of 12 French physicists touring the labs; a party of one at the small table.
a person participating in a telephone conversation:
I have your party on the line.
any occasion or activity likened to a social party, as specified; session:
The couple in the next apartment are having their usual dish-throwing party.
an advantageous or pleasurable situation or combination of circumstances of some duration and often of questionable character; period of content, license, exemption, etc.:
The police broke in and suddenly the party was over for the nation's most notorious gunman.
of or relating to a party or faction; partisan:
party leaders.
of or for a social gathering:
her new party dress.
being shared by or pertaining to two or more persons or things.
Heraldry. (of an escutcheon) having the field divided into a number of parts, usually two; parted.
verb (used without object), partied, partying. Informal.
to go to or give parties, especially a series of parties.
to enjoy oneself thoroughly and without restraint; indulge in pleasure.
Origin of party
1250-1300; Middle English partie < Old French, noun use of feminine of parti, past participle of partir < Latin partīre to share. See part
Related forms
partyless, adjective
interparty, adjective
nonparty, adjective, noun, plural nonparties.
subparty, noun, plural subparties.
Can be confused
individual, party, person (see usage note at the current entry)
1. meeting, assemblage. 4. faction, circle, coterie, ring.
Synonym Study
1. See company.
Usage note
Party meaning “a specific individual” is old in the language, going back to the 15th century, and was formerly in common use. Today, it remains standard in limited senses, chiefly the legal, and is often used humorously or condescendingly: the party holding the balloon. The word person is the neutral and common term. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for parties
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • By the law of God it could not be so annulled as to permit of the re-marriage of the parties.

    The Grand Old Man Richard B. Cook
  • The challenge was accepted, and the parties met on the following day.

    Biographical Sketches Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • Your applying, however, to Reginald can be productive only of good to all parties.

    Lady Susan Jane Austen
  • He had tried to please all parties, and by no means succeeded.

  • The expression of our faces let the parties into the secret of what was going on.

    Ned Myers James Fenimore Cooper
British Dictionary definitions for parties


noun (pl) -ties
  1. a social gathering for pleasure, often held as a celebration
  2. (as modifier): party spirit
  3. (in combination): partygoer
a group of people associated in some activity: a rescue party
  1. (often capital) a group of people organized together to further a common political aim, such as the election of its candidates to public office
  2. (as modifier): party politics
the practice of taking sides on public issues
a person, esp one who participates in some activity such as entering into a contract
the person or persons taking part in legal proceedings, such as plaintiff or prosecutor: a party to the action
(informal, jocular) a person: he's an odd old party
come to the party, to take part or become involved
verb (intransitive) -ties, -tying, -tied
(informal) to celebrate; revel
(heraldry) (of a shield) divided vertically into two colours, metals, or furs
Word Origin
C13: from Old French partie part, faction, from Latin partīre to divide; see part
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for parties



"have a good time," 1922, from party (n.). Earlier as "to take the side of" (1630s). Related: Partied; partying.



late 13c., "part, portion, side," from Old French partie "side, part; portion, share; separation, division" (12c.), literally "that which is divided," noun use of fem. past participle of partir "to divide" (see part (v.)). Political sense of "side in a contest or dispute" evolved by 1300; meaning "a person" is from mid-15c. Sense of "gathering for social pleasure" is first found 1716, from general sense of persons gathered together (originally for some specific purpose, e.g. dinner party, hunting party). Phrase the party is over is from 1937; party line is first recorded 1834 in the sense of "policy adopted by a political party," 1893 in the sense of "telephone line shared by two or more subscribers." Party pooper is from 1951, American English.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for parties



  1. A person (1460+)
  2. A bout of sex play or sexual activity (1935+)


(also partay)Togotoor give parties; be energetically social; live it up, make whoopee: You don't party with the right people, kiss your ass good-bye (1922+)

Related Terms

cold-meat party, gi party, have a party, hen party, kick party, necktie party, pop party, pot party, stag, tailgate party

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with parties


In addition to the idioms beginning with party party line also see: life of the party
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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