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My monolingual dictionaries tell me that the word "mingle" can only be used as a verb in English, something that is confirmed by various google searches. So, what could I use instead, to say "The party will begin with a mingle, and then there is a sit-down meal" in a more idiomatic way? Is there another noun for this activity, or do I have to rephrase completely? My bilingual dictionary is not of much help, since that suggests "mingle", used as a noun...

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    You can use it as a noun if you like and it'll be understood. If you're hesitant, just say it'll start with "some time to mingle". Commented Nov 16, 2022 at 21:48

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"Mingle" really means to put yourself into a crowd. At a social event, 'mingling' suggests branching out and meeting new people rather than those you are already familiar with. We don't formally use "mingle" as a noun in the way you suggest, although an individual might informally say "I'm going for a mingle", perhaps? I don't believe there is a noun in popular use for a designated time like that.

I think you just need the word "socialise", or "socialising". The most common ways of saying this would probably be:

The party began with some socialising, followed by a sit-down meal.

or

The party began with some time to socialise, followed by a sit-down meal.

Perhaps at more formal parties, there might be "introductions" - where people are formally introduced to one another, and that word might be used to describe that time. Most people - although this much is perhaps opinion - find 'forced' introductions at social gatherings to be awkward, and prefer mingling to be a personal choice and introductions to happen naturally.

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It's unnatural to put "mingling" as an event on a schedule, but you can put time for mingling on a schedule.

The party will begin with time for mingling, followed by a sit-down meal.

"A mingle" sounds like a whole social event in itself, like a gathering designed for people to meet new people and get to know each other, rather than part of a party.

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