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[kuh-mish-uh n] /kəˈmɪʃ ən/
the act of committing or entrusting a person, group, etc., with supervisory power or authority.
an authoritative order, charge, or direction.
authority granted for a particular action or function.
a document granting such authority.
a document conferring authority issued by the president of the U.S. to officers in the Army, Navy, and other military services, and by state governments to justices of the peace and others.
the power thus granted.
the position or rank of an officer in any of the armed forces.
a group of persons authoritatively charged with particular functions:
a parks commission.
the condition of being placed under special authoritative responsibility or charge.
a task or matter committed to one's charge; official assignment:
The architect received a commission to design an office building.
the act of committing or perpetrating a crime, error, etc.:
The commission of a misdemeanor is punishable by law.
something that is committed:
He was held accountable for his evil commissions.
authority to act as agent for another or others in commercial transactions.
a sum or percentage of what has been paid that is allowed to agents, sales representatives, etc., for their services:
In addition to her salary, she will get a 20 percent commission for each sale she makes.
verb (used with object)
to give a commission to:
to commission a new graduate of a military academy with the rank of lieutenant.
to authorize; send on a mission:
I've been commissioned by my friend overseas to find him a cheap apartment in New York.
to give the order that places a warship, military command, etc., in a state of complete readiness for active duty.
to give a commission or order for:
The owners commissioned a painting for the building's lobby.
in commission,
  1. in service.
  2. in operating order:
    A great deal of work will be necessary to put this car in commission again.
  3. Also, into commission. Navy. (of a ship) manned and in condition for or ordered to active service.
on commission, paid entirely or partially with commissions from sales one has made or for work one has done:
The salespeople who are on commission earn 6 percent of the total amount they sell.
out of commission,
  1. not in service:
    Telephone lines were out of commission for several days after the storm.
  2. not in operating order:
    Sorry, but I can't bake cupcakes for you while the stove is out of commission.
1300-50; Middle English (< Anglo-French) < Latin commissiōn- (stem of commissiō) a committing. See com-, mission, commit
Related forms
commissionable, adjective
commissional, adjective
commissive, adjective
commissively, adverb
intercommission, noun
recommission, noun, verb (used with object)
subcommission, noun
uncommissioned, adjective
Can be confused
commission, omission. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for commission
  • So they elected a commission to ascertain what was above.
  • The commission dispatched a sharp-sighted fleet-footed mole.
  • The team thinks that genes related to aging are among those taken out of commission.
  • Write and commission articles for the website and print publication.
  • Most tellingly, the typical real estate commission is the same as it has been for decades.
  • At the end of this period, a commission is occasionally extended by a short period.
  • He pursued the commission, interested in the medieval motif and patriotic theme.
  • The commission was not even allowed to refer back to the hague.
  • The city commission establishes ordinances and policies for the city.
British Dictionary definitions for commission


a duty or task committed to a person or group to perform
authority to undertake or perform certain duties or functions
a document granting such authority
  1. a document conferring a rank on an officer
  2. the rank or authority thereby granted
a group of people charged with certain duties: a commission of inquiry
a government agency or board empowered to exercise administrative, judicial, or legislative authority See also Royal Commission
  1. the authority given to a person or organization to act as an agent to a principal in commercial transactions
  2. the fee allotted to an agent for services rendered
the state of being charged with specific duties or responsibilities
the act of committing a sin, crime, etc
something, esp a sin, crime, etc, that is committed
good working condition or (esp of a ship) active service (esp in the phrases in or into commission, out of commission)
(US) the head of a department of municipal government
(transitive) to grant authority to; charge with a duty or task
(transitive) (military) to confer a rank on or authorize an action by
(transitive) to equip and test (a ship) for active service
to make or become operative or operable: the plant is due to commission next year
(transitive) to place an order for (something): to commission a portrait
Derived Forms
commissional, commissionary, adjective
Word Origin
C14: from Old French, from Latin commissiō a bringing together, from committere to commit
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 commission

mid-14c., "authority entrusted to someone," from Latin commissionem (nominative commissio) "delegation of business," noun of action from past participle stem of committere (see commit). Meaning "body of persons charged with authority" is from late 15c.


1660s, from commission (n.). Related: Commissioned; commissioning.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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commission in Culture

commission definition

A fee paid to a broker or other financial agent for negotiating a sale. The fee is based on a percentage of the sale price.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Idioms and Phrases with commission
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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