Prom and The Proms

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The word prom has a very different meaning in the United States and Britain. We will examine the various meanings of the word prom, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

In the United States, a prom is a semi-formal dinner/dance held at the end of the year in high schools. The word prom is derived from the word promenade, which is a term for an informal parade at the beginning of a formal dance. The American prom began as a college semi-formal dance at the end of the school year, staged to promote good manners. The idea of the prom filtered down to the high school level in the early 1900s, and was staged for the upper class. At this time, proms were usually akin to a formal afternoon tea in the school gym. The prom moved out of the gym in the 1970s, and became open to the entire student body. Today, proms can be very expensive endeavors, though enterprising students can find ways to mitigate the cost. For high school seniors, prom night is often a coming-of-age endeavor.

In Britain, prom may be an abbreviation for promenade, which is a paved walkway suitable for easy strolling. A promenade may also be a classical music concert staged in a garden or other setting where the audience stands and may stroll around or dance while the music plays. The Proms is a specific summer concert series staged by the BBC over eight weeks, mostly taking place in the Royal Albert Hall of London, but also in parks across the United Kingdom.


If you went to the prom with someone you’d rather forget, or were left off the court, or just want a second chance to wear that $300 dress, good news: There’s an adult prom Saturday night at North Shore Restaurant and Bar. (The Baraboo News Republic)

Thompson High School has hosted several drunk and distracted driving seminars before prom the past few years, but the April 5 event came with extra significance. (The Alabaster Reporter)

A number of local musicians and performers will also be on the bill at the festival at Chetwynd Deer Park on the outskirts of Newport, which will coincide with the Last Night of the Proms. (The Shropshire Star)

ONE of the country’s most definitive Neil Diamond tribute bands will appear at Haywards Heath’s Proms in the Park this summer. (The Argus)