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 Concerns over undetected cases have spurred the CDC to begin working with health departments to expand their National Wastewater Surveillance System — currently used to help track monkeypox and COVID-19 — to search for polio as well. Alexander Tin, CBS News, 27 Sep. 2022 Having lived in Michigan for most of her life, Claire is really excited to begin her professional career by exploring two different cities. Claire Hao, San Francisco Chronicle, 27 Sep. 2022 The city's public works department was preparing to begin removing debris, city spokesperson Meredith Thatcher said. Mark Thiessen, ajc, 27 Sep. 2022 In August 2021, the Biden administration announced plans to begin offering boosters to most fully vaccinated adults starting the following month. Robin Fields, ProPublica, 27 Sep. 2022 Broadway performances of Kimberly Akimbo are slated to begin previews on Oct. 12 ahead of a Nov. 10 opening. Dave Quinn, Peoplemag, 27 Sep. 2022 When April hits and spawning season begins the milt is shipped back here to begin the fertilization process. Jake Frederico, The Arizona Republic, 27 Sep. 2022 Last month, UC Berkeley halted plans to begin construction in People’s Park of an apartment building for 1,100 undergraduates and permanent supporting housing for unsheltered and low-income people after angry protests and police clashes. Teresa Watanabestaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 26 Sep. 2022 Miami travels to Cincinnati for a Thursday night matchup with the Bengals to begin Week 4. Tim Bielik, cleveland, 26 Sep. 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

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Time Traveler for begin

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

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Last Updated

30 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Begin.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Oct. 2022.

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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


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