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 And unlike last year’s graduating class, commencement was held live – though outdoors on the school campus. Daniel I. Dorfman,, 15 June 2021 The actual commencement was held virtually on Saturday. Sam Whiting, San Francisco Chronicle, 13 June 2021 The Class of 2020 graduated last May, but those students will be part of the ceremonies because the 2020 commencement was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic. Laura Groch, San Diego Union-Tribune, 16 May 2021 Ron Amara also called the university a couple of times, urging that a commencement be held. Rebecca Lurye,, 8 May 2021 Her first reaction after receiving the email from the University of Tampa announcing that commencement would be conducted online was to cry. New York Times, 30 Apr. 2021 The following week the school moved online for the rest of the spring semester, and commencement was postponed. Elinor Aspegren, USA TODAY, 20 Mar. 2021 The School Board held a work session Tuesday to discuss student learning during the pandemic and the 2021 commencement. Mary Jordan, Arkansas Online, 24 Feb. 2021 The mosaic has 1,440,000 pieces featuring Roman numerals that represent the commencement and end dates for World War II and the Korean Conflict. Alysha Witwicki, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 5 Nov. 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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Last Updated

20 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Commencement.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jun. 2021.

Style: MLA
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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.

More from Merriam-Webster on commencement

Nglish: Translation of commencement for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of commencement for Arabic Speakers


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