Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To begin; start.
  • intransitive v. To enter upon or have a beginning; start. See Synonyms at begin.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To begin, start.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • intransitive v. To have a beginning or origin; to originate; to start; to begin.
  • intransitive v. To begin to be, or to act as.
  • intransitive v. To take a degree at a university.
  • transitive v. To enter upon; to begin; to perform the first act of.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To come into existence; take rise or origin; first have existence; begin to be.
  • To enter a new state or assume a new character; begin to be (something different); turn to be or become.
  • To take a degree, or the first degree, in a university or college. See commencement.
  • To cause to begin to be; perform the first act of; enter upon; begin: as, to commence operations; to commence a suit, action, or process in law.
  • Synonyms Commence, Begin. In all ordinary uses commence is exactly synonymous with begin, which, as a purely English word, is nearly always preferable, but more especially before another verb in the infinitive.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. get off the ground
  • v. set in motion, cause to start
  • v. take the first step or steps in carrying out an action

Etymologies

Middle English commencen, from Old French comencier, from Vulgar Latin *cominitiāre : Latin com-, intensive pref.; see com- + Late Latin initiāre, to begin (from Latin initium, beginning; see ei- in Indo-European roots).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old French commencer, from Vulgar Latin cominitiare, formed on Latin com- + initiō (Wiktionary)

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