Noun > Sojourn

Noun – Sojurn

We took the word “sojourn” from French, but you can trace it back to a Latin word meaning “to stay for one day.” (If you squint at the word “sojourn,” you can kind of see the Latin sub, meaning “until,” and diurnum, meaning “a day.“)

To sojourn somewhere is to stay there for a short time, either as a guest or a resident.

Sojourn” is also a noun. A sojourn is a temporary stay or visit.

Part of speech:

Both a noun (“his sojourn here lasted three weeks”) and a verb (“he sojourned here for three weeks”).

Other forms:

Sojourns, sojourned, sojourning, sojourner(s).

how to use it:

Compared to everyday synonyms like “stay,” “visit,” “linger,” and “reside,” our word “sojourn” has a lofty, poetic tone.

It’s not a rare word, exactly. But it’s rare enough (compared to “stay” and “visit” and so on) that it calls special attention to itself.

For a lot of us, when we hear the word “sojourn,” we instantly think of Sojourner Truth (1797-1883), the woman who escaped from slavery and fought for abolition and for women’s rights. You’ll recall from history class that she chose her own name (she was born Isabella Baumfree) when she converted to Christianity and devoted herself to traveling and preaching–staying in each place for a short while, and, if we read between the lines a bit, doing as much good as possible in her temporary stay in this life.

So, pick “sojourn” when you need to strike a serious, profound, or sophisticated tone.

Talk about someone’s sojourn, often in a place: “his monthlong sojourn in Europe,” “their sojourn in Florida for the winter.”

Or talk about someone sojourning, again, often in a certain place: “he’s sojourning in Europe for a month,” “they’re sojourning in Florida for the winter.”

I should point out that if you accidentally say “sojourn” when you mean “journey,” you probably won’t confuse anyone, but your choice of word will be incorrect. At least, that’s true today. Fifty years from now, who knows? When people make the same error for long enough, and often enough, it becomes “correct,” or acknowledged by dictionaries.


“Her husband departed on what they planned as a three-year sojourn to earn money for the family.”
— James Varnay, The Washington Times, 19 May 2019

“[The astronaut] Scott Kelly experienced numerous physiological and chromosomal changes during his long sojourn in orbit, including changes in gene expression.”
— Joel Achenbach, Washington Post, 11 April 2019