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.

Keep scrolling for more

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

Irvine Unified School District's Woodbridge High celebrated its Class of 2019 at a commencement ceremony on Thursday, June 6, at Irvine Stadium in Irvine. Oc Register, "Graduation," 8 June 2019 Marietta College: Katelynd Berg of Medina and Jordan Monyak of Brunswick were among more than 215 students who received diplomas at Marietta College’s 182nd commencement ceremony. Sam Boyer,, "Medina County students excel at universities across the country," 6 June 2019 The Star Press reported that 33 of the 395 Muncie Central graduates were in service and able to attend their commencement ceremony just a day after the invasion. Dawn Mitchell, Indianapolis Star, "D-Day remembered: How Indiana reacted to the Normandy invasion," 6 June 2019 John Cooper School graduates more than 100 students At the John Cooper School commencement ceremony held May 24 for the Class of 2019, 112 students crossed the stage to receive their diplomas. Jane Stueckemann, Houston Chronicle, "Montgomery County education briefs: May 27-31," 4 June 2019 This past weekend, Katie went back home to deliver a commencement speech to the graduates of the University of Toledo—and Katie channeled some sweet and surprisingly personal advice to the teens about to embark on their own adventures. Katherine J. Igoe, Marie Claire, "Katie Holmes Delivers a Beautiful, Personal Commencement Speech in Her Hometown," 5 May 2019 During this year’s commencement on May 14, Emory University paid tribute to a student killed in the 2016 Bangladesh terror attack, renaming the school service award in his honor. Fiza Pirani, ajc, "Emory University honors student who died for friends in 2016 terror attack," 20 June 2018 Saturday morning’s rain dampened bouquets of flowers and balloons but not families’ excitement at Central Connecticut State University’s commencement. Rebecca Lurye,, "Grads Share One More Journey As Blue Devils At CCSU Commencement," 19 May 2018 Walking across the stage at Friday’s commencement marked Carlson’s first college degree, an associate of arts in anthropology. Rachel Leingang, azcentral, "Oldest-ever Scottsdale Community College grad wants to be student 'till the day I die'," 11 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.

See More

First Known Use of commencement

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for commencement

see commence

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about commencement

Statistics for commencement

Last Updated

10 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for commencement

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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.

Keep scrolling for more

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).


standardized text or formulaic language

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Finance Words Quiz

  • a-piggy-bank
  • The etymology of mortgage is related most closely to which two words?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!