be·gin | \bi-ˈgin, bē-\
began\bi-ˈgan, bē- \; begun\bi-ˈgən, bē- \; beginning

Definition of begin 

(Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

1 : to do the first part of an action : go into the first part of a process : start began by introducing herself will have to begin again

2a : to come into existence : arise Their problems were just beginning.

b : to have a starting point Her career began in Chicago. Prices begin at $110 per night.

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

transitive verb

1 : to set about the activity of : start The lecture begins at 10:00. have all ready begun construction

2a : to bring into being : found credited with beginning the movement In 1819, he married the daughter of a … chief and began a dynasty that would last for nearly 200 years.— Robert F. Oaks

b : originate, invent began their tradition

to begin with

: as the first thing to be considered


biographical name
Be·gin | \ˈbā-gin \

Definition of Begin (Entry 2 of 2)

Me*na*chem \mə-ˈnä-ḵəm \ 1913–1992 prime minister of Israel (1977–83)

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Choose the Right Synonym for 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

Examples of begin in a Sentence


They will begin construction on the new school soon. I got the job and I begin work on Monday! She'll begin the lecture at 10. He plans to begin the project later this week. They both began their careers at the local newspaper. The university began accepting applications in November. I had just begun eating when the phone rang. She interrupted as soon as I began to speak. Now that I've begun, I'll go on till I finish. I began the quilt last month.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Brochin, who finished second, requested a recount of all 87,222 paper ballots, which began Thursday. Pamela Wood,, "Baltimore County Democrats spent nearly $1.7M on TV ads in primary," 14 July 2018 Perry compiled dozens of feature, television, and stage credits during a long career that began when he was discovered by Lucille Ball, who put the young actor under contract to Desilu Studios. Dave Mcnary,, "Roger Perry, 'The Facts of Life' and 'Harrigan and Son' actor, dies at 85," 13 July 2018 Council raised the cost of meters and extended their hours to help cover a $32 million shortfall in the city's 2019 budget, which began July 1. Sharon Coolidge,, "Cincinnati unveils long-awaited OTR residential parking plan. Only thing missing? The cost.," 13 July 2018 The text messages that begin arriving on June 28 end my ordinary life. James Hohmann, Washington Post, "The Daily 202: GOP candidates caught in a bind on Medicaid," 13 July 2018 Jefferson County Public Schools will get its chance to argue against a state takeover at a multi-day hearing that begins Sept. 10. Mandy Mclaren, The Courier-Journal, "Hearings on state takeover of JCPS will begin in September," 13 July 2018 The hourlong meeting was an early stop on Kavanaugh's rounds in the Senate, which began this week soon after President Donald Trump announced his nomination Monday night. Erica Martinson, Anchorage Daily News, "Sullivan meets Supreme Court nominee and says he’ll vote to confirm him," 13 July 2018 The two then switched gears to talk about Quinto's upcoming project, In Search Of, a doc series that begins July 20 on the History channel. Ryan Parker, The Hollywood Reporter, "Zachary Quinto Teases George Stephanopoulos for 'Star Wars' Spock Mix-Up," 12 July 2018 Martirano’s emphasis on mental health was highlighted during the budget session for the fiscal year that began July 1. Jess Nocera, Howard County Times, "'Moving the needle' in county public schools: Superintendent's first academic year marked by challenges, rebuilding," 12 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'begin.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of begin


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

History and Etymology for begin


Middle English beginnen, going back to Old English beginnan, from be- be- + -ginnan, going back to Germanic *genn-a-, verbal base of uncertain meaning and origin occurring only with prefixes, found also in Old English onginnan "to be at a starting point, start," Old High German beginnan, Gothic duginnan

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Learn More about begin

Dictionary Entries near begin







beginner's luck

Statistics for begin

Last Updated

16 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for begin

The first known use of begin was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for begin



English Language Learners 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


be·gin | \bi-ˈgin \
began\-ˈgan \; begun\-ˈgən \; beginning

Kids Definition of begin

1 : to do the first part of an action Please begin writing.

2 : to come into existence Our problems were just beginning.

3 : to start to have a feeling or thought I began to feel sick.

4 : to have a starting point The alphabet begins with the letter A.

5 : to do or succeed in the least degree I can't begin to explain.

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Comments on begin

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


exaggeratedly or childishly emotional

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