an event at which a politician answers questions from members of the public
Origin and usage
The compound noun town hall is formed from the nouns ‘town’ and ‘hall’ and has been in use since the 15th century. The political meaning dates from the early 20th century.
In American politics, a town hall meeting, often shortened to town hall, is a public event at which politicians answer questions from members of the public. The term has been extended to the world of business, where a town hall meeting is one where developments in the business are discussed in a relaxed and informal atmosphere by managers and employees. While the term town hall suggests a meeting held in person in a physical building, such events were often held remotely even before the Covid pandemic. Presidential candidates Joe Biden and Donald Trump recently held simultaneous televised town halls after the President refused to participate in a virtual town hall as stipulated by the Commission on Presidential Debates. You can read more about the tradition of town hall meetings in US politics here.
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