I mostly see the word "commemorate" used for people or events in the past. To me it makes most sense in the context of something historical, recurring or continuous.

Can you also commemorate something new, like the opening of a hospital? So, not commemorating the opening of a hospital that took place 100 years ago, but next Sunday we will commemorate the opening of the hospital?

Can I have a party to commemorate my raise or my new car?

Or is there another word that would make more sense in this context?


I think you are looking for inaugurate:

  • to open ceremonially; dedicate formally: to inaugurate a factory.

Collins Dictionary

Commemorate something/somebody, is used to refer to past events:

  • to remind people of an important person or event from the past with a special action or object; to exist to remind people of a person or an event from the past
    • A series of movies will be shown to commemorate the 30th anniversary of his death.
    • A plaque commemorates the battle.


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If, as in your example, the hospital has not been opened before, then there's no one to remember it having opened before, so it cannot be co- memor -ated. No one can be reminded of something that never happened.

That said, there is no statutory waiting period for commemorating. If you want to commemorate the hair washing you just had thirty seconds ago with a soap statue you erect in the tub in its honor, then by all means, nobody's stopping you.

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I would say you can absolutely use commemorate in this situation.

1) recall and show respect for (someone or something) in a ceremony.

2) serve as a memorial to.

3) celebrate (an event, a person, or a situation) by doing or building something

You would be using the word in the sense of the 3rd definition. Time does not play a factor.

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