breakout rooms


I've got a question.
In a textbook by OXFORD I've seen this definition of a breakout room: A room in a hotel where people who are having a long meeting can go to relax, have refreshments, talk, etc for a short time.

That contradicts the opinions in the forum that say a breakout room is a room where breakout sessions take place.

I would like a native speaker to help me. I've also searched in google "image of a breakout room" and there appear both: rooms for resting and rooms for working.

Thanks a lot in advance.
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  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    I've only ever known Breakout as that early computer game where you use a paddle and ball to break down coloured walls. Then just in the last few months I've seen it three times in text I've been working on (I've just checked), and it clearly meant a room where you have a break or have time out. It's an office amenity mentioned in the same breath as a kitchen, and it may have a snack machine and sofas. So this appears to be a new BrE usage. The first time I saw it, I thought it must be just an error for break room, but I held off from changing it.

    I have never heard of a 'breakout session' - until now.


    Senior Member
    English, U.S.
    I agree with pob14 that a "breakout room" suggests the place for a small group session as part of a large meeting.
    "Hospitality room" sounds to me like a word used by people in the hotel business,
    but for me as a hotel customer, it would never occur in my active vocabulary.
    Meanwhile, your textbook seems to be suffering confusion with "break room",
    which might exist at any large workplace for the employees to "go to relax, have refreshments, talk, etc. for a short time", during their coffee break.


    Senior Member
    USA, English
    Possibly an AE/BE difference? I've been to plenty of conferences, and nearly all of them have had "breakout sessions."

    We have "break" rooms where employees relax during their coffee breaks and lunch breaks.

    < Off-topic chat removed. Cagey, moderator >
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    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    My boss (a Brit, but he has spent a long time working in the US, and we work for a US company) has insisted we convert one of the offices into a "breakout room", by which he clearly means "A room [...] where people who are having a long meeting can go to relax, have refreshments, talk, etc for a short time." The room in question is next door to our main meeting/training room.

    "Breakout room" is definitely the term he uses. None of the rest of us have any idea what it will mean in reality since, having removed almost all the furniture about three months ago, nothing has happened since. However, I understand that as well as some seating he wants to include a small kitchen area (because the existing kitchen area, about four metres away, is doubtless too far to walk). I was rather hoping for a pool table, myself. :)


    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    Breakout seasion is definitely standard conference terminology in the U.S. I've never heard of breakout room. Since most conferences are in hotels and conference centers, the places where the breakout sessions happen are usually smaller meeting rooms provided by the venue. There's nothing inherently different about them except their size compared to the main conference hall. The hotel will have permanent names for them that are used to find them and those room names will be in the conference program. But if they are called breakout rooms then it's just for as long as that conference lasts. At the following conference they might feature displays of kitchen accessories or a seminar on a medical topic, just depending on what kind of conference it is. At some conferencs the sponsors provide a hospitality room or even a hospitality suite upstairs in the hotel, for attendees to relax in.