com·​mence | \ kə-ˈmen(t)s How to pronounce commence (audio) \
commenced; commencing

Essential Meaning of commence

formal : to begin The festivities will commence with a parade. Their contract commences in January. See More ExamplesThey commenced to argue. = They commenced arguing. The court commenced criminal proceedings. The country has commenced preparations for war.Hide

Full Definition of commence

transitive verb

: to enter upon : begin commence proceedings

intransitive verb

1 : to have or make a beginning : start
2 chiefly British : to take a degree at a university

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Other Words from commence

commencer noun

Choose the Right Synonym for commence

begin, commence, start, initiate, inaugurate, usher in mean to take the first step in a course, process, or operation. begin, start, and commence are often interchangeable. begin, opposed to end, is the most general. begin a trip began dancing start, opposed to stop, applies especially to first actions, steps, or stages. the work started slowly commence can be more formal or bookish than begin or start. commence firing commenced a conversation initiate implies taking a first step in a process or series that is to continue. initiated diplomatic contacts inaugurate suggests a beginning of some formality or notion of significance. the discovery of penicillin inaugurated a new era in medicine usher in is somewhat less weighty than inaugurate. ushered in a period of economic decline

Examples of commence in a Sentence

Dear God, I thought, I've been infected by an earworm. My friend the Longhair says that's what you call songs that burrow into your head and commence chewing your brains. — Stephen King, Entertainment Weekly, 24 Apr./1 May 2009 He thereupon commenced giving me this fantastically boring lecture about how the only reason I want a stuffed chicken is because they look so good in a shop window, and that the moment I received one I'd start dreaming up ways to ditch it. — Douglas Coupland, Generation X, 1991 The policy would commence not only with the limiting of permits for the building of hotels and boats but with supervision—through expert architectural advice—of the construction of these boats and hotels … — William Styron, This Quiet Dust and Other Writings, (1953) 1982 "Why shoot, I thought you wanted to be a lawyer, you've already commenced going to court." The ladies laughed again. — Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird, 1960 I have commenced two letters to send you before this, both of which displeased me before I got half done, and so I tore them up. — Abraham Lincoln, letter, 4 May 1837 The festivities will commence with a parade. Their contract commences in January. The court commenced criminal proceedings. The country has commenced preparations for war.
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Recent Examples on the Web HanWay Films has come on board to handle international sales and distribution and will commence sales at the American Film Market. Brent Lang, Variety, 13 Oct. 2021 While Frusciante confirmed the tour will commence in June and have a U.S. leg that kicks off in July, exact tour dates will be released soon, according to a press release from Live Nation. Edward Segarra, USA TODAY, 24 Sep. 2021 Music Midtown is scheduled for Sept. 18-19, while ACL Festival will commence on the weekends of Oct 1-3 and Oct 8-10. Stephen Daw, Billboard, 6 Aug. 2021 The company sent them thick briefing books full of engineering details about how construction would commence, just 300 yards from the house where Samuelson lives with his wife and four children. Audrey Gray, The New Republic, 27 Sep. 2021 The federal government pre-arranging medical requirements upon which the employment relationship may commence between private individuals has not been established. Phillip Molnar, San Diego Union-Tribune, 17 Sep. 2021 The parade will head east on Wilson Mills to Highland Heights Community Park, 5905 Wilson Mills Road, where Community Day will then commence. cleveland, 3 Sep. 2021 Setting expectations that Nerf wars will commence every Saturday at 2 p.m. or the dress-up closet will open for a half-hour twice weekly gives kids the security of knowing that family playtime will happen. Washington Post, 29 June 2021 Deciding to stick around for a third and fourth year at Oregon State rather than commence a professional basketball career? oregonlive, 27 Mar. 2021

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

History and Etymology for commence

Middle English comencen, from Anglo-French comencer, from Vulgar Latin *cominitiare, from Latin com- + Late Latin initiare to begin, from Latin, to initiate

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Time Traveler for commence

Time Traveler

The first known use of commence was in the 14th century

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Last Updated

17 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Commence.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for commence


com·​mence | \ kə-ˈmens How to pronounce commence (audio) \
commenced; commencing

Kids Definition of commence

More from Merriam-Webster on commence

Nglish: Translation of commence for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of commence for Arabic Speakers


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