What's the appropriate general word for all informal events in which a few (let's say, 3-10) friends meet at home or in a pub for a beer, dinner, coffee, card game etc., and have a conversation? I don't mean formal large reunions, but these everyday gatherings, and I need a single noun that fit all different kinds of meetings, that would fit in a text whose register is formal, even academic. Would "friends' gatherings" work? (or is it "friends gatherings" without an apostrophe? or maybe "friend gatherings")? Also, would "family gatherings" work to describe regular meetings with one's core or extended family over a dinner or over a coffee?

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    How about "hang out" or "get together" where both can be used as either nouns or verbs? Sep 6 '16 at 9:08
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    Yes, as a rule of thumb (with some exceptions), words should belong to the same register as those surrounding them... I understand that 'gatherings' does not work. Why is it? if it doesn't convey the right meaning and if there are no better options, I'll go for 'get together' notwithstanding its linguistic register. Sep 6 '16 at 9:24
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    Not a single noun, but maybe small social gatherings? (Provided you don't have to use the phrase multiple times, because that would get old quickly.)
    – Will
    Sep 6 '16 at 9:30
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    In Britain we would normally say just Gathering, or Social Gathering. We certainly don't use hang-out for anything much more than a bunch of indolent teenagers boozing and smoking pot on a street corner*.
    – WS2
    Sep 6 '16 at 10:15
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    A get-together, or an informal get-together.
    – Dan
    Sep 6 '16 at 12:16

I saw a reference to a "tertulia"-- a Spanish word--in a book by Gabriel Garcia Marques. It refers to a group that gets together to talk while eating and drinking--or at least that is my understanding. My monthly group has adopted it-- we prefer it as it has a more special quality than some alternatives.*

  • Tertulia is a wonderful description for an event in which people com together for a sociable discussion of cultural subject matter and current affairs. They take place in cafes, bars and peoples homes.
    Sep 6 '16 at 19:41
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    I am bilingual with Spanish, and tertulia is the first word that came to mind when I read the question. Which is not to say it's a common word -- but it's a lovely word. +1. Sep 6 '16 at 20:38

I think the standard choices are

  • get-together
  • gathering
  • meet-up (this is modern)

There are verbs to go with each of these:

  • to get together [over coffee, over a beer / for snacks, etc.]
  • to gather
  • to meet up

I personally don't like gathering so well, because it sounds a little quasi-religious or pompous to me. But I think that's just me.


"Social", used alone as a noun is defined as "A social gathering or party, especially of or as given by an organized group." Example: "She is baking a pie to take to the church social."

I personally prefer going to a "soiree" over a "social." A soiree is defined an evening party or gathering, typically in a private house, for conversation or music.

And then there's "salon," which has nothing to do with hair or nails, but describes a social event dating back to Revolutionary France, when people gathered to party and confabulate. Salons in the US were made popular in the Gilded Age, where people in the arts gathered to socialize and exchange ideas. Salon's were usually hosted at someone's home, but as time marched on, salons could be had at bars or cafes. Salons are not limited to the arts, and can include politics, science and other topics.


Coffee klatsch or its German original, Kaffeeklatsch; there doesn't have to be any coffee (although that would be disappointing). Macmillan open dictionary gives as definition, a social occasion where people have conversations about unimportant matters.

According to Google (?), sometimes the English version is spelled without the s.

I remember it being very popular (fifty years ago).

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