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 mə-ˈnä-ḵəm (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 The feature began in a pilot that Uber refined before rolling it out throughout the U.S. Lisa Marie Segarra, Fortune, "Uber Now Knows If Your Ride Has Gone Wrong—By Tapping Your Smartphone’s Sensors," 17 Sep. 2019 Previous rank: 3 Points in poll: 327 Highest-place vote: 3 (9 voters) Lowest-place vote: 5 (1 voter) Last week’s result: Beat New Orleans, 27-9 This week: at Cleveland NFL 100 fun fact for the day: The Rams franchise began in Cleveland in 1937. The Mmqb Staff,, "NFL Power Rankings Poll Week 3: Cowboys, Niners and Bills (!) on the Rise," 17 Sep. 2019 In the United States, the outbreak of the lung illness began in the Midwest in July., "Vaping illness in US gives Canada pause as legal marijuana vaping sales near - The Boston Globe," 17 Sep. 2019 This saga begins in the year 2012, when Cameron crammed himself into a personal submarine and dove nearly 7 miles down into the Mariana Trench, off the coast of Guam. Wired, "James Cameron, Victor Vescovo, and the Saga of the Deepest* Solo Dive Ever," 17 Sep. 2019 In deference to your husband's health issues, begin this exploration process with a therapist qualified to address whatever his ailment is. Carolyn Hax, oregonlive, "Carolyn Hax: Husband’s issues relegating marital relationship to the back burner," 17 Sep. 2019 But beginning in 2018, the model started taking a step back from the modeling world and only participated in a select number of shows each season. Kaitlyn Frey,, "Kendall Jenner Debuts Blonde Hair for the First Time on Burberry Runway," 16 Sep. 2019 That process begins in earnest Wednesday, when Itasca’s plan commission will consider Haymarket’s request. John Keilman,, "Prudence or fear? Itasca residents aim to prevent opening of 200-bed drug rehab center.," 16 Sep. 2019 The retention figure comes from five years of data, beginning in 2012, Teach for America's first in Cincinnati. Max Londberg,, "Cincinnati teachers union voices opposition to Teach for America. Board candidate disappointed," 16 Sep. 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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Statistics for begin

Last Updated

30 Oct 2019

Time Traveler for begin

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

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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

Comments on begin

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something of little or no value

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