Definition of conference in US English:



  • 1A formal meeting for discussion.

    ‘he gathered all the men around the table for a conference’
    • ‘However, in a public online discussion just before the conference, he also described the pitfalls, and how ecotourism development can fail.’
    • ‘And in a few years, they'll be utterly mundane, and it will seem ludicrous that anyone ever wrote articles about them, held conferences to discuss them.’
    • ‘In Italy, Spain, and the Middle East, conferences, discussions, and conversations do not always end at a specified time.’
    • ‘Eleven small groups reported key points in their discussions when the conference reassembled in open session.’
    • ‘We were in groups for the conference and had to discuss and comment on various things.’
    • ‘The conference will include a discussion on the new techniques in sign and oral methods of teaching and learning process.’
    • ‘When we bump into each other at meetings or conferences we share a momentary nostalgia because we bumped into each other in activist circles back then.’
    • ‘Interesting technological takes on context-awareness and privacy discussed at the conference?’
    • ‘The Fire Brigades Union discussed at its annual conference yesterday whether to hold a ballot which could lead to walkouts within a month.’
    • ‘He contributed to the education of many of the present day mathematicians in Turkey, not only by his lectures but also through illuminating discussions in conferences and seminars.’
    • ‘What sorts of papers does this group discuss at their conferences?’
    • ‘But since I'm sure they have these discussions during conferences, it's a vain hope.’
    • ‘This time however, he was very much subdued and hardly contributed to the discussions in the conference.’
    • ‘Individuals were selected from each panel to present these topics at the conference for discussion in the working group sessions.’
    • ‘Notably absent at the conference was any discussion of whether it is appropriate for universities to market themselves as brands.’
    • ‘The seven-day fest will be enhanced by seminars, discussions and conferences.’
    discussion, consultation, exchange of views, debate, talk, conversation, dialogue, chat, tête-à-tête
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    1. 1.1 A formal meeting that typically takes place over a number of days and involves people with a shared interest, especially one held regularly by an association or organization.
      ‘an international conference on the environment’
      ‘the third annual National Wilderness Conference’
      • ‘He found further support for this view in the relevant resolutions of the General Assembly and international conferences.’
      • ‘By night, and on his few days off, he has until recently led another life as head of a union, recruiting new members, running meetings, and representing the group in international conferences.’
      • ‘Representatives from the UK and abroad were at the conference to share good practice in tackling gun crime.’
      • ‘This is a major achievement for Listowel and we can now build on our success to attract other national and international conferences to North Kerry.’
      • ‘Experts from across the country will meet in Sheffield tomorrow at a conference to discuss the growing problem of liver disease caused by alcohol abuse.’
      • ‘A large number of people in the nuclear industry have been attending a major conference in Sydney to discuss whether nuclear power is inevitable or irrelevant.’
      • ‘A three-day conference began here to discuss Indian and Swedish languages and different cultures.’
      • ‘The main issue up for discussion at the weekend conference was council tax.’
      • ‘Last October, the prince invited a group of writers and teachers to a weekend conference to discuss the teaching of English and history in state schools.’
      • ‘Without having their flights and accommodation paid for, freelances would find it hard to attend major international medical conferences and meetings.’
      • ‘The festival has also set up conferences for musicians interested in song workshops, learning the business side of their field, or even discussing the nuts and bolts of being an independent artist.’
      • ‘It is one of a number of measures discussed at a conference held in the city bringing together experts in bereavement from across the country.’
      • ‘Let us go through an international conference to reach a convention in the United Nations.’
      • ‘And to serve this objective, Egypt has been heavily involved in many regional and international meetings and conferences.’
      • ‘Some get the opportunity to present papers at conferences and author or share authorship of articles.’
      • ‘Intended for international conferences, the convention centre will also have a business centre, a media console and an exclusive resource centre.’
      • ‘Councillors, health bosses and smoking campaigners are holding a conference in Bolton to discuss new ways of cleaning up the city's air and helping more smokers quit.’
      • ‘It is capable of handling both national and international conferences, and has many other top class facilities.’
      • ‘So there came a time when the commander had to go away for a two-month-long conference to discuss plans for army force reductions.’
      • ‘As well as an ideas sharing forum the conference is also a hub for marine research and conservation and includes experts who advise zoos and aquariums how to breed endangered species in captivity.’
      congress, meeting, convention, seminar, colloquium, symposium, forum, convocation, summit, synod, conclave, consultation, awayday
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    2. 1.2usually as modifier A linking of several telephones or computers, so that each user may communicate with the others simultaneously.
      ‘a conference call’
      • ‘Paul insisted that he only found out in the May 2nd telephone conference call.’
      • ‘I was told that the interview time could not be changed and I would be telephoned on my mobile phone for a conference call.’
      • ‘I unexpectedly ended up having to wait some minutes while Frank attended a conference call.’
      • ‘Can you get a counsellor who would counsel the two of you via email or conference call (and do you have the money to pay for it)?’
      • ‘But equally, as he himself admitted during the earnings conference call, pros are increasingly choosing portables over desktops.’
      • ‘Poor Robyn, who was dialing everybody into the conference call at that point, had to call me back a number of times.’
      • ‘Upon release of this decision the parties may arrange to address costs either in person or by telephone conference call, through the trial coordinator in Newmarket.’
      • ‘It was in fact the goal that set her course of action: she chose to complete the stated goal of the conference call rather than to let people vent emotion.’
      • ‘The spokeswoman said she knew very little more than this but apparently the press office will have a conference call with the techies very soon.’
      • ‘‘You've got to give up something,’ pressed one analyst at yesterday's conference call.’
      • ‘Nearly all providers offer free call waiting, call display, and conference call services.’
      • ‘It shouldn't be news at all that plenty of people don't pay attention to the conference at hand when they dial in to a conference call.’
      • ‘We schemed and plotted by internet, e-mail and conference call, and now the team has come together for the first time.’
      • ‘A tape of that conference call was played in court.’
      • ‘In a conference call, the company blamed the charge on slow mobile phone sales.’
      • ‘Other courses will use a telephone conference call for the audio portion of the course.’
      • ‘Network executives plan to hold a daily conference call to address any possible programming changes.’
      • ‘The parties may wish to make oral submissions by way of a telephone conference call.’
      • ‘You can also engage in a conference call with up to five people and exchange instant messages or files.’
      • ‘You will also be able to conduct conference calls, receive voice mail, send faxes and check e-mail.’
  • 2An association of sports teams that play each other.

    • ‘In the new format, each team will play six division games, four against a division in its own conference, and four against teams in the other conference.’
    • ‘It also has shown it can compete with teams from major conferences.’
    • ‘That leaves seven teams scrambling for the conference's four remaining spots in the playoffs, which start April 17.’
    • ‘For Kansas State, however, the motivation to load up on teams from low-major conferences is different.’
    • ‘They're one of three teams in the conference without a winning record at home, where they are 16-16.’
    • ‘As it stands now, six teams in each conference qualify for the playoffs - the four division winners and two wild-card entries.’
    • ‘This is the best team in the best conference in football, the Big 12.’
    • ‘Last year, through the bizarre calculations approved by the major college sports conferences, Miami was denied its chance at the national championship.’
    • ‘It's not hard to find good teams in the mid-major conferences.’
    • ‘Memphis was 7-3 entering the week, but six of the victories were against teams from lesser conferences.’
    • ‘I am tired of the strong stance that they want to take with football without helping the conference in other sports.’
    • ‘Still, both teams have the misfortune of playing in the divisions with the best teams in their conferences, so both are more likely to be wildcard contenders.’
    • ‘If you weren't good enough to be one of the top six teams in your conference, you aren't deserving of going to the playoffs.’
    • ‘But it feels disrespectful to the teams outside the power conferences to lump them together and judge them in relation to one another, so I won't continue to do it.’
    • ‘This is where the best team in the best conference in college football plays.’
    • ‘Each team will contest nine 50-overs matches against the other teams in their conference with all games played in coloured clothing and with a white ball.’
    • ‘Having certain teams switch conferences should have been examined more closely.’
    • ‘There are home school sports conferences and organizations throughout the country.’
    • ‘When you play in a conference, other league teams know your tendencies and schemes and personnel from year to year.’
    • ‘There will be times when teams from those conferences will be forced to play on Fridays anyway.’
  • 3The governing body of some Christian churches, especially the Methodist Church.

    • ‘The bishops made no mention of the US bishops' statement or the opposition to the war by other western episcopal conferences or Catholic church leaders.’
    • ‘He went on to defend his own actions and his conference's, saying he has upheld church law even when he doesn't like the law.’
    • ‘Only the local conference can alter a pastor's status under church law.’
    • ‘Among United Methodist conferences, Northern Illinois is contending for the lead in membership decline.’
    • ‘State Catholic conferences possess clarity of mission, in part because they are under the direct control of a state's bishops.’
    • ‘Christian conferences must be more than some sanctimonious form of the United Nations.’
    • ‘I flew from here to Indianapolis to address a conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.’
    • ‘As in the past, the Vatican expressed much satisfaction with the conference and the conciliar style of the Church in the United States.’
    • ‘At the moment, few topics polarize local Methodist conferences more than the question of same-sex marriages.’
    • ‘That state Catholic conferences have bases of legitimacy independent of the bishops' moral authority does not mean that moral authority is irrelevant to their work.’
    • ‘These men co-operated in the camps and conferences of the Evangelical Movement of Wales.’
    • ‘More specifically, he notes that women are generally more gay supportive than men and that women are becoming a larger proportion of delegates to Methodist conferences.’
    • ‘There is, I believe, no one more appropriate to address the conference on the liturgical role of children in the Church.’


[no object]usually as noun conferencing
  • Take part in a conference or conference call.

    ‘video conferencing’
    • ‘The bill they're starting with, in our view, remains probably too weak to try to risk conferencing with what the Senate is going to pass.’
    • ‘A very pleasant place for all those speeches, but in terms of sustainability it must rank with everybody driving round the city in their cars and conferencing on their mobile phones.’
    • ‘No faculty reported using video or audio conferencing to communicate with students.’
    • ‘I would write a post about our parochialism but I have to go to the airport to pick up my husband, returning from two weeks teaching and conferencing in Europe.’
    • ‘While many large companies have adopted web conferencing, mid size and small companies have not.’
    • ‘If you are just starting to think about Web conferencing, then this basic book is the one you need.’
    • ‘This evolution became particularly clear when fathers began to be regularly discussed as part of infant mental health case conferencing.’
    • ‘With web conferencing the students and teachers will even be able to speak to each other.’
    • ‘For traditional programs, it could mean adding chat room conferencing or online discussion centers for students on internships.’
    • ‘There is the usual blue-sky stuff, such as phone conferencing and video calls, which, in my view, are never going to appeal to the baffled masses among us, for two good reasons.’
    • ‘Encourage peer conferencing about spelling on written work as well as during writing workshops.’
    • ‘In later versions, it will offer voice portals, speech-controlled services, video streaming and conferencing.’
    • ‘Because of advances in technology such as Web conferencing, he says, businesses are sending fewer employees to trade shows.’
    • ‘If the interior of the train was revamped it could be used for the private sector for conferencing or meetings, he said.’
    • ‘Part of her confession is that she is now ‘agnostic’ about peer conferencing, although she still abides by the faith and uses it.’
    • ‘Students were able to divide the work, discuss through web conferencing and meet as needed to coordinate.’
    • ‘The company is launching voice services immediately and will offer conferencing and messaging shortly.’
    • ‘Once in Libya it became obvious that there was no peace conferencing going down and invitees were stuck twiddling thumbs on a cold beach next to a military complex for two weeks.’
    • ‘Michael continued to work from his office, conferencing with the managers that had automatically taken command of his company when he had fallen ill.’
    • ‘He was also there, conferencing with her and asking her questions rapidly.’


  • in conference

    • In a meeting; engaged in discussions.

      • ‘It's been sitting in conference for a long time.’
      • ‘We'll be in conference - everybody knows what that means.’
      • ‘You know, the bishops, as you pointed out, met in conference in 2002 and again in 2003, to talk about how to cope with this escalating crisis in the church.’
      • ‘The amendment could still be removed in conference with the Senate as the two houses work out differences in the legislation.’
      • ‘I've attached it again to a jobs bill, but that's in conference, and I don't know what's going to happen there, but we have had good bipartisan support.’
      • ‘We've seen these kind of games played before in conference, where conferees drop provisions which they should not drop when they're both in the House and the Senate bills.’
      • ‘As the Labour Party faithful, of which I was hitherto a proud member, meet in conference, they have an opportunity to earn the nation's commendation.’
      • ‘The health and labor spending bill is currently in conference, where a minimal increase of $25 million to $38 million is under debate.’
      • ‘It is already in the House bill funding those departments, and Democrats will not let it be stripped out behind closed doors in conference.’
      • ‘That sweeping legislation has been in conference since July.’


Early 16th century (in the general sense ‘conversation, talk’): from French conférence or medieval Latin conferentia, from Latin conferre ‘bring together’ (see confer).