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

While giving the commencement speech at the graduation ceremony for the 2019 class of Harlem Children’s Zone Promise Academy, Pharrell Williams had a surprise up his sleeve. Claudia Harmata,, "Pharrell Williams Promises Internships to 114 High School Graduates in Harlem," 3 July 2019 Grammy Award-winning artist Pharrell Williams delivered a surprise announcement during his commencement speech to graduating students in Harlem. Chevaz Clarke, CBS News, "Pharrell Williams promises internships to more than 100 Harlem high school graduates," 3 July 2019 But one person who wasn’t familiar with her work was Gwen Lynch, the lone student at a commencement speech the Milton native gave earlier this month. Kevin Slane,, "Jenny Slate and Seth Meyers joked about her speech for a graduating class of 1," 26 June 2019 Years later, Biden spoke about the tragedy in a 2015 Yale commencement speech. Marie Claire, "Joe Biden's First Wife, Neilia, and Daughter Naomi Passed Away In a 1972 Accident," 26 June 2019 This is the prepared text of the Stanford University commencement speech delivered June 16, 2019 by Apple CEO Tim Cook. Bay Area News Group, The Mercury News, "Here’s what Apple CEO Tim Cook told Stanford grads about accountability and responsibility," 17 June 2019 The college crowd packed the place for the reopening June 11, just a handful of days before commencement. Linda Zavoral, The Mercury News, "First Look: Santa Clara’s The Hut 2.0, now with smoked meats," 11 July 2019 Each spring just before commencement LeVasseur invites the graduating seniors to his house near the college for a party. Steven Goode,, "His mother died saving his life during the Hartford Circus Fire, but Jerry LeVasseur turned a catastrophe into a lifetime of opportunity," 6 July 2019 The elevator doors pinged open and Garcetti slipped out toward the commencement, where a rippling sea of blue caps and gowns awaited. Chanan Tigay, GQ, "Eric Garcetti Is the Anti-Trump, Pro–Star Wars Man We Need," 12 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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Statistics for commencement

Last Updated

5 Aug 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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Comments on commencement

What made you want to look up commencement? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a period when something is suspended

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