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[sey-ahns] /ˈseɪ ɑns/
a meeting in which a spiritualist attempts to communicate with the spirits of the dead.
a session or sitting, as of a class or organization.
Origin of séance
1795-1805; < French: session, equivalent to sé-, base of seoir to sit1 (< Latin sedēre) + -ance -ance
Can be confused
science, séance. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for seance
Historical Examples
  • Patience is necessary in conducting a seance, and perseverance is essential.

  • This is the first seance I have ever taken part in, but I must believe now.'

    Echoes of the War J. M. Barrie
  • At this juncture a smothered giggle from the darkened Gipsy wagon came near breaking up the seance.

  • The seance is of old and elder men, of whom Socrates is the youngest.

    Laches Plato
  • One night at a seance I saw my little step-daughter who had been dead many years.

    On a Donkey's Hurricane Deck R. Pitcher Woodward
  • Then there was a seance held last night in the little salon!

    At the Villa Rose A. E. W. Mason
  • At the termination of the seance, the spirit-voice said, 'We are going'.

  • It was interesting, too, to know that there had been a seance planned for that night!

    At the Villa Rose A. E. W. Mason
  • After the seance, we lighted up the room, opened the window, and M. Meurice again tried to move the sealing-wax.

  • The ending of this afternoon seance had been a great shock to the young man.

    Painted Veils James Huneker
British Dictionary definitions for seance


/ˈseɪɑ̃ns; -ɑːns/
a meeting at which spiritualists attempt to receive messages from the spirits of the dead
a meeting of a society
Word Origin
C19: from French, literally: a sitting, from Old French seoir to sit, from Latin sedēre
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 seance

1789, "sitting, session," as of a learned society, from French séance "a sitting," from seoir "to sit," from Latin sedere (see sedentary). Meaning "spiritualistic session" first recorded 1845.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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