or·​i·​gin | \ ˈȯr-ə-jən How to pronounce origin (audio) , ˈär- \

Definition of origin

1 : ancestry, parentage was of humble origin She is of French origin.
2a : rise, beginning, or derivation from a source the origin of life on Earth The word "algebra" is of Arabic origin.
b : the point at which something begins or rises or from which it derives the origin of the custom also : something that creates, causes, or gives rise to another a spring is the origin of the brook
3 : the more fixed, central, or larger attachment of a muscle
4 : the intersection of coordinate axes

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Choose the Right Synonym for origin

origin, source, inception, root mean the point at which something begins its course or existence. origin applies to the things or persons from which something is ultimately derived and often to the causes operating before the thing itself comes into being. an investigation into the origin of baseball source applies more often to the point where something springs into being. the source of the Nile the source of recurrent trouble inception stresses the beginning of something without implying causes. the business has been a success since its inception root suggests a first, ultimate, or fundamental source often not easily discerned. the real root of the violence

Examples of origin in a Sentence

Her ethnic origins are French. the origins of human language remain a matter of considerable debate
Recent Examples on the Web See the origin story of U.S. representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and three other amazing women during the 2018 midterm elections. Bianca Rodriguez, Marie Claire, "The 19 Best Documentaries on Netflix to Watch Right Now," 19 Oct. 2020 For many years, Bey has traced his origin story as an artist back to the moment in 1968 when his godmother gave him his first camera, an Argus C3 35-mm Rangefinder that had belonged to his godfather. Lauretta Charlton Photographs By Latoya Ruby Frazier, New York Times, "Dawoud Bey," 19 Oct. 2020 Alessandra Ricci’s vision of Pandora, whose origin story includes misogyny but not assault, unleashes swirls of color that symbolize both affliction and transcendence. Mark Jenkins, Washington Post, "In the galleries: Exhibit upends male-centric myths, legends and folklore," 16 Oct. 2020 Taking this dim view of the state’s European origin story further, the advisory committee wants to do away with Mission High School and Presidio Middle School. John King, SFChronicle.com, "San Francisco school names targeted for change range from divisive to obscure," 16 Oct. 2020 The fact that Malcolm X’s father was not lynched will surely disappoint readers searching for a simple origin story of Malcolm’s radical politics. Kerri Greenidge, The Atlantic, "The Making of Malcolm X," 15 Oct. 2020 Martin-Green adores the idea of getting more of Sasha's origin story out there. Dalton Ross, EW.com, "Sonequa Martin-Green wants to return for The Walking Dead anthology series," 12 Oct. 2020 And despite the troubling origin story of this holiday weekend, the idea of eating excessively with our biological and chosen families sparks serious joy. Sumiko Wilson, refinery29.com, "You Have 10 New Netflix Canada Treats To Watch This Weekend," 8 Oct. 2020 The origin story is that, in 1923, Pierce carved a small elephant—on view—as a present for his wife. Karen Wilkin, WSJ, "‘Elijah Pierce’s America’ Review: Working Against the Grain," 3 Oct. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'origin.' 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 origin

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for origin

Middle English origine, from Latin origin-, origo, from oriri to rise — more at orient entry 2

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Time Traveler for origin

Time Traveler

The first known use of origin was in the 15th century

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Statistics for origin

Last Updated

23 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Origin.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/origin. Accessed 24 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for origin


How to pronounce origin (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of origin

: the point or place where something begins or is created : the source or cause of something
: the place, social situation, or type of family that a person comes from


or·​i·​gin | \ ˈȯr-ə-jən How to pronounce origin (audio) \

Kids Definition of origin

1 : basic source or cause The origin of their quarrel is not known.
2 : a person's ancestry They are people of humble origin.
3 : the rise or beginning from a source The story has its origin in fact.
4 : the point where the reference axes meet in a graph or coordinate plane


or·​i·​gin | \ ˈȯr-ə-jən, ˈär- How to pronounce origin (audio) \

Medical Definition of origin

1 : the point at which something begins or rises or from which it derives
2 : the more fixed, central, or larger attachment of a muscle — compare insertion sense 1

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