What's the difference between "to dedicate" and "to inaugurate" in the sense [to open or begin use of formally with a ceremony, as of a highway, park, or building]?

What's the story to "dedicate"?

How did it evolve from the sense [to address or inscribe (i.e. a literary work) to a person or a cause, etc., as a mark of respect or affection] to the "inaugural" one?




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    You seem to have a regular silent critic, but with your present level of reputation, the expectation is that you should bring some of your own research to the table. By the way, is French your native language? Mar 10, 2014 at 1:06
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    @NourishedGourmet I agree with Jim. You and I have a lot of conversations on here, and I know that you are asking to improve your English (which is excellent - BTW). But, I think it's time to put a bit more research into these questions. For example, this question should have shown that your already googled the definitions, etc. I know you've done this in the past, so I know you do this regularly. But, to avoid down votes, you should "show your work" as we say in AmE.
    – David M
    Mar 10, 2014 at 1:30
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    Okey Doke, David. I'll be sure and do so in my future questions.
    – Elian
    Mar 10, 2014 at 1:36
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    If it makes you feel better, I'm the one who up voted you on this.
    – David M
    Mar 10, 2014 at 1:44
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    And showing your work should ideally include what you've learned from your research. Linking to definitions shows us what you've found, but showing what you've learned is even more helpful. Mar 10, 2014 at 3:02

2 Answers 2


Dedicating and inaugurating are two different processes.

To dedicate a building (or anything else) is to have a ceremony which names or devotes it in honor of someone.

To inaugurate is to begin something. For example, the Presidential inauguration is to formally begin their Presidency. There is a swearing in ceremony, etc. But, the inauguration is the actual beginning of the presidency, not the ceremony.

The ceremony is called an inauguration ceremony. So, I can see where you became confused by the two concepts.

  • Can an inaugural be the same as an inauguration, David?
    – Elian
    Mar 10, 2014 at 1:19
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    Yes. They are effectively the same. Inaugural is an adjective. Inauguration is a noun. What is confusing is that people use inaugural as a noun, but it is really a truncated version of an inaugural ball, season, etc.
    – David M
    Mar 10, 2014 at 1:23

I think you have the direction of its evolution reversed.

Both dedicate and inaugurate originate in Latin and have similar meanings then and today

dedicate means to consecrate, proclaim, affirm, set apart.

inaugurate means to install or consecrate.

For dedication as in the dedication for a book, this a message at the beginning of a book saying that it was written or is being performed in order to honor or express affection for someone.

If you research the meaning of consecrate, you'll find this, where #2 may match the book dedication:

  1. to make or declare sacred; set apart or dedicate to the service of a deity: to consecrate a new church building.
  2. to make (something) an object of honor or veneration; hallow: a custom consecrated by time.
  3. to devote or dedicate to some purpose: a life consecrated to science.
  4. to admit or ordain to a sacred office, especially to the episcopate.
  5. to change (bread and wine) into the Eucharist.

Dedicating a park, bridge, or building fits all of this. If you dedicate something to someone, you may be doing to honor that person or you may devoting it to that person (for some purpose).

When you inaugurate something or someone, this may fit the definition of install (to establish in a place, office or position). Presidents are inaugurated. Rides at Disneyland are inaugurated. On the other hand, you may inaugurate a memorial site, in which case you may also be consecrating that site.

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