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verb be·gin \bi-ˈgin, bē-\

Simple Definition of begin

  • : to do the first part of an action : to start doing something

  • : to start to work on, produce, or give attention to (something)

  • : to cause (something) to start

Full Definition of begin

be·gan play \-ˈgan\ be·gun play \-ˈgən\ be·gin·ning

  1. intransitive verb
  2. 1 :  to do the first part of an action :  go into the first part of a process :  start

  3. 2 a :  to come into existence :  arise b :  to have a starting point

  4. 3 :  to do or succeed in the least degree <I can't begin to tell you how pleased I am>

  5. transitive verb
  6. 1 :  to set about the activity of :  start

  7. 2 a :  to bring into being :  found b :  originate, invent

to begin with
  1. :  as the first thing to be considered

Examples of begin

  1. They will begin construction on the new school soon.

  2. I got the job and I begin work on Monday!

  3. She'll begin the lecture at 10.

  4. He plans to begin the project later this week.

  5. They both began their careers at the local newspaper.

  6. The university began accepting applications in November.

  7. I had just begun eating when the phone rang.

  8. She interrupted as soon as I began to speak.

  9. Now that I've begun, I'll go on till I finish.

  10. I began the quilt last month.

Origin of begin

Middle English beginnen, from Old English beginnan; akin to Old High German biginnan to begin, Old English onginnan

First Known Use: before 12th century

Synonym Discussion of begin

begin, commence, start, initiate, inaugurate, usher in mean to take the first step in a course, process, or operation. begin , start , and commence are often interchangeable. begin, opposed to end, is the most general <begin a trip> <began dancing>. start, opposed to stop, applies especially to first actions, steps, or stages <the work started slowly>. commence can be more formal or bookish than begin or start <commence firing> <commenced a conversation>. initiate implies taking a first step in a process or series that is to continue <initiated diplomatic contacts>. inaugurate suggests a beginning of some formality or notion of significance <the discovery of penicillin inaugurated a new era in medicine>. usher in is somewhat less weighty than inaugurate <ushered in a period of economic decline>.


biographical name Be·gin \ˈbā-gin\

Definition of Begin

  1. Me*na*chem play \mə-ˈnä-ḵəm\ 1913–1992 prime min. of Israel (1977–83)

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up begin? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


February 13, 2016

a trying or distressing experience

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