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

Bashir said that over time the group dwindled to 31 as many either moved on to other European countries or returned to their country of origin. Menelaos Hadjicostis, The Seattle Times, "After 20-year wait, refugee sees ‘bright future’ in UK," 4 Dec. 2018 But a single malt has, in theory, a distinctive profile linked to its place of origin. Chloe Schama, Vogue, "Demystifying Single Malt Scotch," 21 Nov. 2018 The only time the 1961 Convention rules comes into play is on the rare occasion when the child would otherwise be stateless; in that case, the airline’s country of origin will determine the passport. Mark Ellwood, Condé Nast Traveler, "What Happens to Babies Born on Planes," 26 Oct. 2018 Dutch, French, English, American, Japanese, and a Namibian group called the Himba—and tried to match the chortling to its country of origin. Popular Mechanics, "Can You Tell Someone's Nationality From Their Laugh?," 9 Aug. 2018 This has been a point of contention for some governments that have called for turning back migrants to their areas of origin. Megan Specia, New York Times, "U.N. Agrees on Migration Pact, but U.S. Is Conspicuously Absent," 13 July 2018 Langford said the cause of the fire was suspicious for several reasons, including its point of origin. Elyssa Cherney, chicagotribune.com, "Boy, 3, who died in fire had been left alone inside locked apartment," 9 July 2018 Our clients — many of whom are victims of domestic abuse and gang violence in their countries of origin — entered the United States legally, and seeking asylum is their human right. Allison Bond, STAT, "We can’t ignore the scars of those seeking asylum for domestic abuse and gang violence," 29 June 2018 Name, age, gender and country of origin are also recorded. CBS News, ""No system" to reunite children with parents in detention, former Obama official says," 21 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

13 Dec 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).


a soft lustrous wool fabric with mohair

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