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

Muhammad said Alonso is nearing graduation from West Aurora High School, and will be the 2018 commencement speaker. Steve Lord, Aurora Beacon-News, "Aurora honors achievement by two students," 11 May 2018 Last month, The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale conducted its 49th commencement ceremony, conferring degrees to more than 170 graduates. David Lyons,, "Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale stops accepting new students as parent pares U.S. operations," 3 July 2018 In 2015, he was given an honorary doctorate of laws and spoke at Ball State's commencement. Tim Sullivan, The Courier-Journal, "Cardinal Stadium is Papa John's to name, but pressure mounts to change it," 12 July 2018 In 2015, he was given an honorary doctorate of laws and spoke at Ball State's commencement. Justin L. Mack, Indianapolis Star, "How Indiana institutions are dealing with Papa John's name," 12 July 2018 Also speaking at the commencement were valedictorian Taylor Brysgel and salutatorian Harrison Oatman. Melanie Savage, Courant Community, "RHAM Graduates 267," 3 July 2018 At Howard commencement, ‘Black Panther’ star celebrates grads The latest in news, debates and issues in higher education for students, teachers and more. Sarah Larimer, Washington Post, "Howard’s volleyball team traveled to Africa. Here’s what they did there.," 15 June 2018 Photo: Marion Curtis / StarPix/REX/Shutterstock.. Jimmy Fallon, host of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, surprised seniors at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas commencement this weekend, CNN reports. Rebecca Farley,, "Jimmy Fallon Makes Moving Surprise Speech At Marjory Stoneman Douglas Graduation," 4 June 2018 Justice Stephen Breyer will speak at New York Law School's commencement at Carnegie Hall on June 1. Fox News, "SUPREME COURT NOTEBOOK: Flip-flops and summer plans," 24 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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Last Updated

2 Sep 2018

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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

: 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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to make amends

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