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 Reconstruction of the immigration system for a nation whose origin story is all about immigration will be a difficult process. Dianne Solis, Dallas News, "Will a Biden administration really reverse the Trump administration crackdown on immigrants?," 13 Nov. 2020 Trump’s version is less about providing genuine value than a brazen cash grab, designed to generate income through a steady stream of spinoffs, Easter eggs and callbacks — at least until the next protagonist pops up in a new origin story (Don Jr.? Washington Post, "Trump’s bizarre post-election behavior isn’t a tantrum or a coup. It’s fan service.," 13 Nov. 2020 The prequel followed the character's origin story and rise to power, and grossed more than $178 million, propelling Johnson to leading-man status. Tyler Aquilina, EW.com, "Dwayne Johnson producing Scorpion King reboot at Universal," 11 Nov. 2020 You trade resources, carry passengers, fight ship-sized crabs and sea anemones, and find out one unsettling origin story after another. Popular Mechanics Editors, Popular Mechanics, "The 2020 Game and Toy Awards," 4 Nov. 2020 Ryan Nusbickel, author of The Funniest Halloween Joke in St. Louis, agrees with this origin story. Isis Davis-marks, Smithsonian Magazine, "This Halloween Is Scary Enough. Tell a Joke Instead," 30 Oct. 2020 Like the history of that band, Woods’s own origin story is complex. Megan Mayhew Bergman, The New Yorker, "The Improbable Life of Helen Jones Woods and the International Sweethearts of Rhythm," 24 Oct. 2020 This spin-off short tells the origin story of Olaf, the innocent and insightful, summer-loving snowman from that franchise. Lisa Respers France, CNN, "Adele and Rihanna, please save us from 2020 with new music," 22 Oct. 2020 Walter conceived of the novel as a personal origin story. Antonia Hitchens, WSJ, "Jess Walter’s ‘The Cold Millions’ Is a Hometown Ode," 22 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

16 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

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