verb be·gin \ bi-ˈgin , bē- \
Updated on: 21 Feb 2018

Definition of begin

began play \-ˈgan\; begun play \-ˈgən\; beginning
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
2 a : 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
2 a : 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

Examples of begin in a Sentence

  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.

Recent Examples of begin from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of 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

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

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

BEGIN Defined for English Language Learners



Definition of begin for English Language Learners

  • : 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

BEGIN Defined for Kids


verb be·gin \ bi-ˈgin \

Definition of begin for Students

began \-ˈgan\; begun \-ˈgən\; beginning
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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