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 The university canceled all events through May 31, and postponed its commencement ceremony indefinitely. Chronicle Staff,, "Coronavirus news from the Bay Area: March 16," 30 July 2020 Hundreds of Florida high school graduates and guests who attended a commencement ceremony on Saturday were advised by health officials to self-quarantine for two weeks after one attendee tested positive for the coronavirus. Wilson Wong, NBC News, "Coronavirus case leads to quarantine advisory for hundreds who attended Florida graduation," 29 July 2020 Yancopoulos delivered the keynote commencement address at Yorktown High School in New York. Sy Mukherjee, Fortune, "Drug giant Regeneron responds to backlash over co-founder’s ‘All Lives Matter’ graduation speech," 2 July 2020 In the weeks prior to the commencement ceremony, Carson worked with an English teacher and other school officials to write her speech. Meghan Mangrum, USA TODAY, "Tennessee high school valedictorian's racial injustice speech cut short, principal apologizes," 30 June 2020 Ward will attend MassBay's virtual commencement ceremony on Tuesday night, and said some friends would be joining him to celebrate the accomplishment. Caitlin O'kane, CBS News, "School bus driver inspired by students gets college degree during coronavirus pandemic," 30 June 2020 What’s more, as senior class president she was selected to give the commencement address. Nina Strochlic, National Geographic, "Meet NYC’s 2020 graduates—from aspiring actors to first-generation 'Dreamers'," 26 June 2020 In May, Williams took part in former President Barack Obama's Graduate Together: America Honors the High School Class of 2020, a virtual commencement series across ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, and more than 20 other broadcast and digital streaming partners. Omar Sanchez,, "Pharrell will return home to build a gospel choir in Netflix's Voices of Fire," 5 July 2020 In an effort to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19, presidents at institutions large and small had to send students home, shift to virtual instruction, and postpone commencement exercises. Michael V. Drake, Fortune, "Universities should support their most vulnerable students to champion education equity," 27 June 2020

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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Time Traveler for commencement

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for commencement

Last Updated

6 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Commencement.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for commencement


How to pronounce commencement (audio)

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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