verb com·mence \ kə-ˈmen(t)s \
|Updated on: 18 Aug 2018

Definition of commence

commenced; commencing
: to enter upon : begin
  • commence proceedings
1 : to have or make a beginning : start
2 chiefly British : to take a degree at a university



Examples of commence in a Sentence

  1. 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 KingEntertainment Weekly24 Apr./1 May 2009
  2. 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 CouplandGeneration X1991
  3. 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 StyronThis Quiet Dust and Other Writings(1953) 1982
  4. "Why shoot, I thought you wanted to be a lawyer, you've already commenced going to court." The ladies laughed again. —Harper LeeTo Kill a Mockingbird1960
  5. 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 Lincolnletter4 May 1837
  6. The festivities will commence with a parade.

  7. Their contract commences in January.

  8. The court commenced criminal proceedings.

  9. The country has commenced preparations for war.

Recent Examples of commence from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of commence

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

Synonym Discussion of 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

COMMENCE Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of commence for English Language Learners

  • : to begin

COMMENCE Defined for Kids


verb com·mence \ kə-ˈmens \

Definition of commence for Students

commenced; commencing
: begin 1, start

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very hard to disturb or upset

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