com·​mence·​ment | \kə-ˈmen(t)s-mənt \

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

Haynes was the first from his family to earn a college diploma, and missed a day of rookie minicamp to walk in commencement last month. Jourdan Rodrigue, charlotteobserver, "Veteran Panthers DEs impacting Marquis Haynes, and one has a familiar comparison," 6 June 2018 University of Texas at San Antonio graduates received their rings in a ceremony Wednesday evening, ahead of commencements this weekend. Krista Torralva, San Antonio Express-News, "UTSA tradition puts class rings in Alamo overnight," 10 May 2018 The 23-year-old economics major was chosen as student commencement speaker out of 1,240 spring graduates. Michelle Theriault Boots, Anchorage Daily News, "This UAA grad sought college success out of state, but found it back home," 7 May 2018 The commencement of the DigIndy project, which will keep millions of gallons of sewage out of the White River, will go a long way toward making the river more accessible. Emily Hopkins, Indianapolis Star, "We 'turned our back' on the White River. Now, Indianapolis wants to make it a destination.," 10 July 2018 The 2018 Coventry High School commencement was moved from the football field to the school auditorium due to the threat of rain. Melanie Savage, Courant Community, "Coventry High School Graduates 118," 3 July 2018 Soon after the commencement, photos of Musazai went viral. Sharif Hassan, Washington Post, "‘Afghanistan’s Malala’: College student shot by Taliban in 2016 graduates with honors," 10 June 2018 In other style news, the Duchess of Cambridge, Camilla Parker-Bowles, and the Queen all wore long sleeved, blue ensembles for the Trooping of the Colour commencement. Janine Puhak, Fox News, "Meghan Markle criticized for ‘inappropriate’ off the shoulder dress at Queen’s birthday parade," 9 June 2018 During the commencement, graduate Jasmine Mirbasoo gave a speech about her four years at the high school and how life is similar to an electronic device. Anthony Clark Carpio,, "Clark Magnet celebrates its largest graduating class," 8 June 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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Last Updated

11 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for commencement

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

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English Language Learners Definition of commencement

: the time when something begins

: 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 \

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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