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

Definition of Begin (Entry 2 of 2)

Me*na*chem \ mə-​ˈnä-​ḵəm How to pronounce Begin (audio) \ 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

Verb 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 Studios were just beginning to recover from the Depression, while also facing threats to their income with the looming antitrust lawsuit that was filed with the Justice Department in 1938. Maureen Lee Lenker,, "How 1939 earned and kept the moniker of ‘Hollywood’s Greatest Year’," 22 Dec. 2019 The city is in the midst of its second e-scooter pilot program, which began with an initial 12-month trial run in April. oregonlive, "Portland extends e-scooter pilot program through 2020," 20 Dec. 2019 Cincinnati officials revealed on Friday the club's preseason schedule, which begins anew when players report back to Cincinnati Jan. 18. Pat Brennan,, "FC Cincinnati set for up to 7 exhibition matches in 2020 preseason," 20 Dec. 2019 The customized condos, which are two to three bedrooms, begin in the $600,000 range and are 1,568 square feet to 2,176 square feet. Evan Frank, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Coco's Seafood and Steakhouse will be opening at Fowler Lake Village in Oconomowoc," 20 Dec. 2019 An Indy 500 ticket is required for entry to the event, which begins at 7 a.m. and is open to attendees 18 and older. David Lindquist, Indianapolis Star, "Indy 500 Snake Pit unveils Martin Garrix as 2020 headliner," 19 Dec. 2019 Lupita Nyong’o delivers not one but two of the year’s most riveting performances in a film which begins as a fraught home-invasion thriller and builds into a bold science-fiction epic. The Economist, "What to watch The best films released in 2019," 19 Dec. 2019 The actress will appear on the show for a two-episode arch, which began with her appearance on Tuesday night’s episode. Claudia Harmata,, "NCIS Alum Cote de Pablo Teases She Had a 'Really Good Reason' for Returning to the Series," 18 Dec. 2019 The second is a more formal public service, which begins 11:00 a.m. Everyone, other than the Queen, walks to church together, as crowds gather to watch. Madeleine Luckel, Vogue, "How Prince William, Kate Middleton, and the British Royal Family Spend Christmas," 18 Dec. 2019

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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Time Traveler for begin

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for begin

Cite this Entry

“Begin.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for begin


How to pronounce Begin (audio)

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 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.

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More from Merriam-Webster on begin

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for begin

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with begin

Spanish Central: Translation of begin

Nglish: Translation of begin for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of begin for Arabic Speakers

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