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 The cause and origin of the fire is being investigated by the Alabama State Fire Marshal’s Office and the circumstances surrounding the death is being investigated by the Adamsville police. Carol Robinson | Crobinson@al.com, al, "1 killed in Adamsville house fire," 6 May 2021 This suggested that redshifts might be quantized, and perhaps had a non-cosmological origin. Ethan Siegel, Forbes, "Why Isn’t Anyone Seriously Challenging The Big Bang?," 6 May 2021 There has also been a rise in anti-Asian violence, motivated by racist misperceptions of COVID-19’s origin. Lisa Wong Macabasco, Vogue, "The Mothers and Daughters Fighting to Keep Chinatown Alive," 5 May 2021 The country is a key regional economic and security ally and physicians of Indian origin have been instrumental in filling critical workforce gaps in the US and in helping to provide lifesaving care during the pandemic. CNN, "The pandemic can't end unless the world helps India. Immediately," 4 May 2021 The array of analysis methods allowed the team not only to identify cosmic dust but also to trace each extraterrestrial particle’s most likely origin. Sarah Derouin, Scientific American, "Antarctic Study Shows How Much Space Dust Hits Earth Every Year," 29 Apr. 2021 The counterfeits go for scrap-metal value, and the foreign coins go to a charity that painstakingly sorts them all by origin, then repatriates them for dollars. Christopher Bonanos, Curbed, "The Man in the MTA’s Money Room," 29 Apr. 2021 That provision of the law describes false designation of origin and false description or representation. Kyle Wood, orlandosentinel.com, "Founder of disputed Publix subs Twitter account reveals new details of fight with grocery chain," 29 Apr. 2021 And in fact, in places like New England, some of the first laws regulating slavery apply to Native peoples and not to people of African origin at all. Karin Wulf, Smithsonian Magazine, "A 1722 Murder Spurred Native Americans’ Pleas for Justice in Early America," 28 Apr. 2021

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

9 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Origin.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/origin. Accessed 9 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for origin



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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