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

So people have been moved to make way for the factory, and some construction has begun. Josh Dzieza, The Verge, "An interview with Reply All’s Sruthi Pinnamaneni," 6 Dec. 2018 Since this report, the attorneys general of twelve more states and the District of Columbia have begun collecting records from local dioceses. Mary Beth Keane, Vogue, "Amid Scandal After Scandal, One Catholic Mother Faces A Painful Choice," 6 Dec. 2018 By September of my seventh-grade year, Juicy Couture had begun to appear at discount stores like Saks Off Fifth. Jamie Lauren Keiles, Vox, "How the JAP became America’s most complex Jewish stereotype.," 5 Dec. 2018 The competition closed in October 2018, and Airbus has already begun work to convert the results into a product. Alyson Behr, Ars Technica, "More than an auto-pilot, AI charts its course in aviation," 5 Dec. 2018 Change had already begun with the controversial 76-story Columbia Center. Jon Talton, The Seattle Times, "‘It’s the economy, stupid,’ and the bad luck of George H.W. Bush," 4 Dec. 2018 Amazon has begun rolling out its Black Friday deals and while there’s a focus on Amazon’s own products (including Echo devices of course), there are also tons of discounts on other furniture and decor to browse. Emily Heller, Curbed, "Best Amazon deals for Black Friday 2018," 21 Nov. 2018 Starting next April, work will begin on a 33-gate Terminal One that will replace the existing Terminal A, the airport’s oldest terminal, which will remain open while the replacement is built. Barbara Peterson, Condé Nast Traveler, "New York's Airports Are Getting Billion-Dollar Makeovers—But What Will They Actually Change?," 21 Nov. 2018 The MoEDAL instrument began gathering data in 2015 and will carry on through the LHC’s current run, ending this December, and likely through the next from 2020 to 2022. Adam Hadhazy, Discover Magazine, "Scientists Hunt for A Seeming Paradox: A Magnet With Only One Pole," 13 Nov. 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

11 Dec 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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More from Merriam-Webster on begin

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with begin

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for begin

Spanish Central: Translation of begin

Nglish: Translation of begin for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of begin for Arabic Speakers

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).


to make faulty or ineffective

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