What does the word commencement mean?

Usage examples for commencement

  1. The road at the commencement looks as if it led up the plain. – The South of France--East Half by Charles Bertram Black
  2. Why, our bunch alone will make seven trains, and that ain't a commencement. – The Lure of the Dim Trails by by (AKA B. M. Sinclair) B. M. Bower
  3. He died at the commencement of this second punishment.... – Comrade Kropotkin by Victor Robinson