9 Grammatical Pitfalls


[kuh-mens-muh nt] /kəˈmɛns mənt/
an act or instance of commencing; beginning:
the commencement of hostilities.
the ceremony of conferring degrees or granting diplomas at the end of the academic year.
the day on which this ceremony takes place.
Origin of commencement
1225-75; Middle English < Anglo-French, Old French. See commence, -ment
Related forms
noncommencement, noun
recommencement, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for commencement
  • Graduation from high school marks the commencement of the fourth stage of life, professional development.
  • Thank you for giving us this singular privilege of being part of this commencement ceremony.
  • Excerpts from some of this year's commencement addresses.
  • commencement season in academe inevitably brings controversy.
  • So too will be the commencement of real work to prepare for elections, first at a local level and later at national level.
  • There is a direct correlation between degenerative diseases and the commencement of grain farming.
  • He was also chosen to deliver a commencement address.
  • And in a surprising move, the power of calling for the contest's commencement was handed over to the surfers themselves.
  • Later, two letters appeared that included threats directed at the commencement.
  • Huntsman gave a commencement speech there yesterday.
British Dictionary definitions for commencement


the beginning; start
  1. (US & Canadian) a ceremony for the presentation of awards at secondary schools
  2. (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
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Word Origin and History for commencement

late 13c., "beginning," from Old French comencement "beginning, start" (Modern French commencement), from comencier (see commence). Meaning "school graduation ceremony" attested by 1850, American English. (Sense "entrance upon the privileges of a master or doctor in a university" is from late 14c.)

I know what you are thinking of -- the class members grouped in a semicircle on the stage, the three scared boys in new ready-made black suits, the seventeen pretty girls in fluffy white dresses (the gowns of the year), each senior holding a ribbon-tied manuscript bulging with thoughts on "Beyond the Alps Lies Italy," "Our Ship is Launched -- Whither Shall it Sail?" and similar topics. [Charles Moreau Harger, "The Real Commencement," "New Outlook," May 8, 1909]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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