be·​gin | \ bi-ˈgin How to pronounce begin (audio) , bē- \
began\ bi-​ˈgan How to pronounce begin (audio) , bē-​ \; begun\ bi-​ˈgən How to pronounce begin (audio) , bē-​ \; beginning

Definition of begin

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 They began the lecture at 10:00. have already 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

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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web The parking corrals, to be installed by Memorial Day, will be in areas where the highest number of trips begin and end. Kaitlin Mccallum, Hartford Courant, 6 May 2022 The 2022 Marion County baseball tournament was postponed for Friday and will begin Saturday afternoon. Akeem Glaspie, The Indianapolis Star, 6 May 2022 The memoir is a global success, but as more details emerge, her publisher starts to question its legitimacy and the threads of her story begin to unravel. Sophie Hanson, Harper's BAZAAR, 6 May 2022 The 26th Women's National Basketball Association season is about to begin and to celebrate, the organization has released an exciting new video previewing what's to come. Alexandra Schonfeld,, 5 May 2022 Now that the deal is ratified, the contracts’ terms on working conditions will take effect 30 days from May 5, rates increases will begin retroactive to April 1 at the same time and their language on structure will go into effect June 1. Katie Kilkenny, The Hollywood Reporter, 5 May 2022 On Wednesday, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) decided to raise its effective-federal-funds-rate target range by 50 basis points and begin the process of shrinking its balance sheet. William J. Luther, National Review, 5 May 2022 Consultants to the city have begun looking at numbers, and soon will begin drawing possible maps of new wards, mandated to be done after each national census every 10 years. Steve Lord, Chicago Tribune, 5 May 2022 Then, as a new day begins, the wife’s eyes open in bed and begin gazing around the ceiling, where Noé's camera is perched. Washington Post, 5 May 2022 See More

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.

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

Learn More About begin

Time Traveler for begin

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near begin




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for begin

Last Updated

9 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Begin.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for begin


be·​gin | \ bi-ˈgin How to pronounce begin (audio) \
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.

Begin biographical name

Be·​gin | \ ˈbā-gin How to pronounce Begin (audio) \

Definition of Begin

Me*na*chem \ mə-​ˈnä-​ḵəm How to pronounce Begin (audio) \ 1913–1992 prime minister of Israel (1977–83)

More from Merriam-Webster on begin

Nglish: Translation of begin for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of begin for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Which Word Does Not Belong?

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!