com·​mence | \ kə-ˈmen(t)s How to pronounce commence (audio) \
commenced; commencing

Definition of commence

transitive verb

: to enter upon : begin commence proceedings

intransitive verb

1 : to have or make a beginning : start
2 chiefly British : to take a degree at a university

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Other Words from commence

commencer noun

Choose the Right Synonym for commence

begin, commence, start, initiate, inaugurate, usher in mean to take the first step in a course, process, or operation. begin, start, and commence are often interchangeable. begin, opposed to end, is the most general. begin a trip began dancing start, opposed to stop, applies especially to first actions, steps, or stages. the work started slowly commence can be more formal or bookish than begin or start. commence firing commenced a conversation initiate implies taking a first step in a process or series that is to continue. initiated diplomatic contacts inaugurate suggests a beginning of some formality or notion of significance. the discovery of penicillin inaugurated a new era in medicine usher in is somewhat less weighty than inaugurate. ushered in a period of economic decline

Examples of commence in a Sentence

Dear God, I thought, I've been infected by an earworm. My friend the Longhair says that's what you call songs that burrow into your head and commence chewing your brains. — Stephen King, Entertainment Weekly, 24 Apr./1 May 2009 He thereupon commenced giving me this fantastically boring lecture about how the only reason I want a stuffed chicken is because they look so good in a shop window, and that the moment I received one I'd start dreaming up ways to ditch it. — Douglas Coupland, Generation X, 1991 The policy would commence not only with the limiting of permits for the building of hotels and boats but with supervision—through expert architectural advice—of the construction of these boats and hotels … — William Styron, This Quiet Dust and Other Writings, (1953) 1982 "Why shoot, I thought you wanted to be a lawyer, you've already commenced going to court." The ladies laughed again. — Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird, 1960 I have commenced two letters to send you before this, both of which displeased me before I got half done, and so I tore them up. — Abraham Lincoln, letter, 4 May 1837 The festivities will commence with a parade. Their contract commences in January. The court commenced criminal proceedings. The country has commenced preparations for war.
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Recent Examples on the Web Spring training is scheduled to commence Feb. 17 with Opening Day on April 1, but MLB has discussed delaying the season with the surge of COVID-19 cases. Bob Nightengale, USA TODAY, "MLB threatens harsh discipline for teams violating facility access protocols before spring training," 5 Jan. 2021 It was originally supposed to commence filming on June 7 in Orlando and Tampa. Kathleen Christiansen,, "2020 movies: Reflecting on a year in film," 25 Dec. 2020 Structured auction targeted to commence no later than Jan. 15. Maria Halkias, Dallas News, "Francesca’s files for bankruptcy and says it’s closing 10 stores in Texas," 4 Dec. 2020 The repaving and remake of the street was to commence in 2016. John King,, "S.F.’s long road to Market Street plan ends in a shortcut," 11 Nov. 2020 According to the agreement that Anthony Buick GMC made with the Village of Gurnee, the development will have a minimum construction value of $6 million, and will commence no later than June 30, 2022. Erin Yarnall,, "Gurnee OKs tax rebate to keep car dealership in town," 22 Dec. 2020 Yet President Trump’s decision to commence a new Afghanistan troop drawdown has prompted bipartisan outrage. Gil Barndollar And Sam Long, WSJ, "Now Is as Good a Time as Any for the U.S. to Quit Afghanistan," 10 Dec. 2020 With the Los Angeles Dodgers crowned World Series champions, the 2020 Major League Baseball season is officially over and the offseason can commence. Jesse Yomtov, USA TODAY, "Way-too-early look at MLB teams who could win the 2021 World Series," 28 Oct. 2020 In our constitutional system, a decision whether to commence or persist in a prosecution lies solely in the executive’s discretion. Andrew C. Mccarthy, National Review, "D.C. Circuit Rules against Michael Flynn, Sending Case Back to Judge Sullivan," 1 Sep. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'commence.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of commence

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

History and Etymology for commence

Middle English comencen, from Anglo-French comencer, from Vulgar Latin *cominitiare, from Latin com- + Late Latin initiare to begin, from Latin, to initiate

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Time Traveler for commence

Time Traveler

The first known use of commence was in the 14th century

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Statistics for commence

Last Updated

14 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Commence.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for commence


How to pronounce commence (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of commence

formal : to begin


com·​mence | \ kə-ˈmens How to pronounce commence (audio) \
commenced; commencing

Kids Definition of commence

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