or·​i·​gin | \ˈȯr-ə-jən, 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

James Corner Field Operations Many of the new generation of superstar urban park projects came to fruition with interesting origin stories. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "Miami’s Underline underscores potential of park projects," 19 Oct. 2018 The representative declined to share information with Mr. Goldsmith about the origin of the account, but Twitter said to Mr. Goldsmith that his findings were promising and the company was interested in learning more. Dustin Volz, WSJ, "Army Veteran Wages War on Social-Media Disinformation," 17 Oct. 2018 Hayabusa2 was built after learning from the original mission, and seeks to study its asteroid in greater depth, return a greater amount of material, and deliver insights about the origins of the Solar System. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "Two Japanese robots are now happily hopping on an asteroid [Updated]," 22 Sep. 2018 The source said Fultz was not forthcoming about the origin of the injury or his symptoms, which delayed the team’s ability to resolve it. Marcus Hayes, Philly.com, "Sixers top doctor Daniel Medina says his first year keeping Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons on the court was a success | Marcus Hayes," 9 July 2018 The study also made discoveries about the origins of American dogs. Marc Daalder, ajc, "Why none of our dog breeds are native to America," 6 July 2018 The study also made discoveries about the origins of American dogs. Marc Daalder, Detroit Free Press, "Dogs native to America were wiped out by Eurasian dogs," 5 July 2018 The trial featured testimony from both Iovine and Dre about the origins of Beats, which sold to Apple for some $3 billion shortly before Lamar filed his lawsuit. Eriq Gardner, The Hollywood Reporter, "Dr. Dre, Jimmy Iovine Hit With $25M Verdict at Beats Trial," 27 June 2018 On another day, Punk testified under oath about the origins of his ring name. Justin Barrasso, SI.com, "For CM Punk, Defamation Trial Proved to Be a Blessing in Disguise for UFC 225 Training," 7 June 2018

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

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Statistics for origin

Last Updated

15 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for origin

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

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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 \

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- \

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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More from Merriam-Webster on origin

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for origin

Spanish Central: Translation of origin

Nglish: Translation of origin for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of origin for Arabic Speakers

Comments on origin

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


something that serves to warn or remind

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