com·​mence·​ment | \ kə-ˈmen(t)s-mənt How to pronounce commencement (audio) \

Definition of commencement

1 : an act, instance, or time of commencing They awaited the commencement of the trial.
2a : the ceremonies or the day for conferring degrees or diplomas A Nobel Prize winner will speak at the commencement.
b : the period of activities at this time Commencement will kick off with a family reception followed by a banquet.

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Examples of commencement in a Sentence

A poet will speak at the commencement. there was a large turnout at the commencement of the conference, but the numbers dwindled as it progressed

Recent Examples on the Web

At Barnard College’s graduation in 2018, Wambach turned her commencement address into a call to action. Samantha Leach, Glamour, "Abby Wambach Won't Stop Until the U.S. Women's Soccer Team Gets Equal Pay," 12 Mar. 2019 Ghanbari was present at Saturday’s commencement ceremony, sitting with the 96-year-old and escorting him from the stage as Barger shook hands with school officials after receiving his diploma. Elizabeth Zwirz, Fox News, "World War II veteran, 96, receives college degree more than 60 years after his last class, report says," 2 Oct. 2018 Often graduates of college, and sometimes high school, place messages on their mortar boards for commencement., "Graduation season around the Baltimore region," 8 June 2018 Carter is the third president Liberty has hosted for commencement. CBS News, "Jimmy Carter jabs Trump — just a little — in commencement speech," 19 May 2018 Sandberg’s message, set forth in a commencement speech at Barnard College in 2011 and fleshed out more fully in Lean In, was simple but ambitious: Women should pursue their professional goals without hesitation or apology. Anna North, Vox, "How Facebook’s scandals are hurting Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In brand," 17 Dec. 2018 In 2002, after the 9/11 attacks, President George W. Bush announced a policy of pre-emptive war during his address at the Army’s West Point commencement. New York Times, "Trump Tells Naval Academy Graduates America Is ‘Respected Again’," 25 May 2018 Our elders keep on showing up and showing out, and one 89-year-old mother of 12 did just that over the weekend after becoming the oldest graduate to cross the stage at Liberty University’s commencement in Lynchburg, Va. Breanna Edwards, The Root, "Too Late for Whom? 89-Year-Old Woman Becomes Oldest Graduate in Liberty University’s Class of 2018," 24 May 2018 Murry joined 777 other graduates at the Genesis Convention Center in Gary who began a new life chapter at IUN’s 52nd commencement. Meredith Colias-pete, Post-Tribune, "Indiana University Northwest students celebrate graduation: It's 'a huge wave of emotions'," 11 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'commencement.' 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 commencement

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for commencement

see commence

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Statistics for commencement

Last Updated

18 Mar 2019

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Time Traveler for commencement

The first known use of commencement was in the 13th century

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More Definitions for commencement



English Language Learners Definition of commencement

: the time when something begins
US : a ceremony during which degrees or diplomas are given to students who have graduated from a school or college


com·​mence·​ment | \ kə-ˈmens-mənt How to pronounce commencement (audio) \

Kids Definition of commencement

1 : graduation exercises
2 : the act or the time of beginning We look forward to commencement of the school year.

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