[ kuh-mens-muhnt ]
See synonyms for commencement on
  1. an act or instance of commencing; beginning: the commencement of hostilities.

  2. the ceremony of conferring degrees or granting diplomas at the end of the academic year.

  1. the day on which this ceremony takes place.

Origin of commencement

First recorded in 1225–75; Middle English, from Anglo-French, Old French; equivalent to commence + -ment

Other words from commencement

  • non·com·mence·ment, noun
  • re·com·mence·ment, noun

Words Nearby commencement Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use commencement in a sentence

  • In this little room the galleries had been designed; the windows had looked upon the commencement of the great work.

  • But Ulm was only the commencement of the campaign, and even after Austerlitz Napoleon pursued the enemy with grim resolution.

    Napoleon's Marshals | R. P. Dunn-Pattison
  • He graduated at Yale college, and at the commencement of hostilities was appointed to the chief command of the Connecticut troops.

  • The first commencement of Union College for conferring degrees in the arts and sciences.

  • At the very commencement of the campaign Massna committed a fault which almost ruined his career.

    Napoleon's Marshals | R. P. Dunn-Pattison

British Dictionary definitions for commencement


/ (kəˈmɛnsmənt) /

  1. the beginning; start

    • US and Canadian a ceremony for the presentation of awards at secondary schools

    • US a ceremony for the conferment of academic degrees

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012