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

On Friday, Verlander met with the Detroit media as the Tigers began a three-game series in Houston. Kirkland Crawford, Detroit Free Press, "Kate Upton, former Tigers star Justin Verlander expecting first child," 14 July 2018 Today, as gentrification begins to slowly price young people and artistic types out of Edinburgh and Glasgow, Dundee has become an emerging hub for Scottish creativity. Todd Plummer, Vogue, "A Guide to Dundee, Scotland—the First City Outside London to Get Its Very Own V&A Museum," 14 July 2018 More than 130, mostly unarmed, Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since protests began on March 30. Aron Heller,, "Israel exchanges intense fire with Hamas militants in Gaza," 14 July 2018 The Orioles entered Saturday on pace to win just 44 games, which would be 10 fewer than any other team since the franchise began playing in Baltimore. Peter Schmuck,, "Schmuck: During season on the brink, Orioles are losing the head games, too," 14 July 2018 The second half wasn’t as kind to them as the Mercury began to heat up behind DeWanna Bonner. Kelli Stacy,, "Connecticut Sun Defeat Phoenix Mercury, Snap Losing Streak," 13 July 2018 The story behind the turkey started sometime in February — possibly earlier as people began reporting sightings. Kaitlyn Schwers, kansascity, "Tina the beloved ‘traffic-stopping’ turkey hit by car. Missouri community mourns loss," 13 July 2018 The concertmaster works closely with the conductor on performance and interpretation issues, sets bowing instructions for other first violin players and tunes the orchestra before each concert begins. Sarah Brookbank,, "Timothy Lees steps down as Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra concertmaster," 13 July 2018 While Blockbusters began disappearing across the U.S. in 2013, Alaska remained a lucrative market for the rental video company. Natasha Bach, Fortune, "Not Even John Oliver Could Save Two of the Last Remaining Blockbusters in the U.S.," 13 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

2 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).


evasion of direct action or statement

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