commencement late 13c., "beginning," from O.Fr. comencement "beginning, start" (Mod.Fr. commencement), from comencier (see COMMENCE (Cf. commence)). Meaning "school graduation ceremony" attested by 1850, Amer.Eng. (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]

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  • commencement — [ kɔmɑ̃smɑ̃ ] n. m. • 1119; de commencer ♦ Le fait de commencer; ce qui commence. 1 ♦ Ce qui vient d abord (dans une durée, un processus), première partie. ⇒ début. Le commencement du siècle, de l année, du mois, de la semaine. Le commencement du …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • commencement — Commencement, Coeptum, Incoeptio, Exordium, Initium, Orsus, Primordium, Principium, Exorsum, exorsi, Exorsus, huius exorsus. Le commencement de toutes choses, comme est le feu, l eau, l air, la terre, Elementum. Les commencemens de chacune… …   Thresor de la langue françoyse

  • commencement — COMMENCEMENT. s. m. Ce par où chaque chose commence. Bon commencement. Mauvats commencement. Heureux commencement. Au commencement du monde. Dès le commencement. Dans le commencement. Depuis le commencement de la Monarchie. Les commencemens des… …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie Française 1798

  • commencement — Commencement. s. m. v. Ce qui est le premier en quelque chose. Bon, mauvais, heureux commencement. le commencement de la guerre, des troubles. le commencement du monde. dés le commencement. dans le commencement. au commencement. depuis le… …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie française

  • Commencement — may refer to: Graduation, the ceremony at which students receive academic degrees Commencement speech Commencement (The West Wing) Commencement (album), by Deadsy Commencement, a novel by J. Courtney Sullivan about Smith College Commencement , a… …   Wikipedia

  • Commencement — Com*mence ment, n. [F. commencement.] 1. The first existence of anything; act or fact of commencing; rise; origin; beginning; start. [1913 Webster] The time of Henry VII. . . . nearly coincides with the commencement of what is termed modern… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Commencement — (fr., spr. Kommangs mang), Anfang …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • commencement — index birth (beginning), derivation, embryo, genesis, inception, nascency, origin (source) …   Law dictionary

  • commencement — [n] ceremony marking the beginning of stage admission, alpha, birth, bow, celebration, convocation, countdown, curtain raiser*, dawn, dawning, genesis, graduation, initiation, kickoff*, onset, opener, opening, outset, proem, services, start,… …   New thesaurus

  • commencement — ► NOUN 1) the beginning of something. 2) N. Amer. a ceremony in which degrees or diplomas are conferred …   English terms dictionary

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