\ˈstärt \

Definition of start 

(Entry 1 of 3)

intransitive verb

1a : to move suddenly and violently : spring started angrily to his feet

b : to react with a sudden brief involuntary movement started when a shot rang out

2a : to issue with sudden force blood starting from the wound

b : to come into being, activity, or operation when does the movie start the rain started up again

3 : to protrude or seem to protrude eyes starting from their sockets

4 : to become loosened or forced out of place one of the planks has started

5a : to begin a course or journey started toward the door just starting out

b : to range from a specified initial point the rates start at $10

6 : to begin an activity or undertaking especially : to begin work

7 : to be a participant in a game or contest especially : to be in the starting lineup

transitive verb

1 : to cause to leave a place of concealment : flush start a rabbit

2 archaic : startle, alarm

3 : to bring up for consideration or discussion

4 : to bring into being start a rumor

5 : to cause to become loosened or displaced

6 : to begin the use of start a fresh loaf of bread

7a : to cause to move, act, or operate start the motor

b : to cause to enter a game or contest especially : to put in the starting lineup

c : to care for or train during the early stages of growth and development started plants a well-started coonhound

8 : to do or experience the first stages or actions of started studying music at the age of five

start something or less commonly start anything

: to make trouble always trying to start something don't start anything

to start with

1 : at the beginning : initially

2 : in any event



Definition of start (Entry 2 of 3)

1a : a sudden involuntary bodily movement or reaction woke with a start

b : a brief and sudden action or movement

c : a sudden capricious impulse or outburst

2 : a beginning of movement, activity, or development a false start housing starts

4 : a place of beginning

5 : the act or an instance of being a competitor in a race or a member of a starting lineup in a game undefeated in six startsCurrent Biography


\ˈstärt \

Definition of START (Entry 3 of 3)

strategic arms reduction talks

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Choose the Right Synonym for start


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 start in a Sentence


They started clearing land for the new housing development. He started studying music at the age of five. As soon as you're ready to play, we'll start. Let's start with some warm-up exercises. He deleted what he wrote and started fresh. Olympic athletes start young and train hard. I started the quilt last month. Have you started your book report? We started the meeting at 6:30. She started the meeting with a brief review of the previous meeting.


knew from the start of the game that he would win easily
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Olivia, who tried the challenge herself, suggests starting with clean hair that hasn’t been straightened. De Elizabeth, Teen Vogue, "The Viral Water Bottle Challenge Is Instagram's New Favorite Beauty Trend," 11 Nov. 2018 That starts with Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, the state’s incredibly disliked former venture capitalist governor, who will be facing Democrat J.B. Pritzker, a billionaire entrepreneur who has his own financial baggage. Tara Golshan,, "Illinois results for every midterm race," 8 Nov. 2018 After the show started with an announcement that undefeated Stanford was the No. Scott Hanson, The Seattle Times, "A tough draw: Seattle U women’s soccer opens NCAA tournament against No. 1 Stanford," 6 Nov. 2018 That innovative thinking shines through in her policy priorities, which start with broadband internet—many areas of rural Vermont still lack internet connectivity, stymying growth and opportunity. Jill Filipovic, Harper's BAZAAR, "Your State-by-State Guide to Women Running in the Midterms," 31 Oct. 2018 Meanwhile, after enjoying several careers myself—the longest one as a magazine editor and writer—my fledgling New Orleans decorating business was just starting to take off. Sara Ruffin Costello, ELLE Decor, "A New Orleans Manse is Given New Life with a Fashionable Pizzazz," 26 Oct. 2018 The bridge itself is an impressive feat of technology, starting with its complex form, which was printed in chunks before being welded together. Liz Stinson, Curbed, "This 3D-printed steel bridge will be installed over an Amsterdam canal," 23 Oct. 2018 The case started in February, when Stephen's former brother-in-law, Vaughn Ellison, discovered a hidden recording device while performing contracting work at Stephen's home in Monticello, where Stephen and his father own a local car dealership. Fox News, "Victims of Iowa coach can still come forward, agent says," 23 Oct. 2018 What started with companies like Lyft and Uber led to Ryde, the company that won the TaaS war in U.S. cities. Popular Mechanics Editors, Popular Mechanics, "The World of 2045," 14 Oct. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The 29-year-old Butler has averaged 21.8 points a game since the start of the 2014-15 season, the 13th-highest clip in the NBA over that span. Rob Maaddi, The Seattle Times, "Jimmy Butler ready to ‘grind’ and work hard in Philly," 13 Nov. 2018 But this week's edition of Nature includes a collection of 20 new observations, all occurring since the start of 2017. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "We’ve seen more fast radio bursts, but we still don’t know what they are," 11 Oct. 2018 She was married to Peter Kafka and has been a key part of our family — a work family, but a family nonetheless — since the start. Kara Swisher, Recode, "A few words about Cindy Lobel," 10 Oct. 2018 Snap says the amount of time people spend watching shows has almost tripled since the start of the year. Casey Newton, The Verge, "Snapchat announces a slate of original programming for Discover," 10 Oct. 2018 Clinton Police Officer Christopher Ryan Morton's death comes after at least 20 officers have died in the line of the duty since the start of 2018. Ryan Gaydos, Fox News, "Missouri police officer killed, 2 others wounded in shooting; suspect dead," 2 Oct. 2018 Shots of 1492 tequila had been passed on trays since the start of the evening, so guests were more than ready to stay late and dance the night away for a good cause. Alexandra Macon, Vogue, "Jessica Seinfeld and Net-a-Porter’s Alison Loehnis Cohost Good+ Foundation’s Annual Summer Dinner in the Hamptons," 6 Aug. 2018 According to the global fashion search platform Lyst, British searches for waistcoats have increased by 41 percent since the start of the World Cup. New York Times, "How Gareth Southgate Made the Waistcoat a Surprise World Cup M.V.P.," 13 July 2018 Bregman leads the American League in homers (14) and OPS (1.085) since the start of June. Jerome Solomon, Houston Chronicle, "Astros' Alex Bregman to compete in 2018 Home Run Derby," 12 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'start.' 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 start


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1a


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for start


Middle English sterten; akin to Middle High German sterzen to stand up stiffly, move quickly

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Learn More about start

Statistics for start

Last Updated

16 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for start

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

See more words from the same century

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More Definitions for start



English Language Learners Definition of start

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to do the first part of something : to begin doing something

: to begin to work on, produce, or give attention to (something)

: to cause (something) to begin : to cause (something) to begin in a specified way



English Language Learners Definition of start (Entry 2 of 2)

: the time at which something begins

: the first part of an activity, development, event, etc.

: the first opportunity to begin a career


\ˈstärt \
started; starting

Kids Definition of start

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to begin an activity I'm starting a new book.

2 : to come or bring into being or action Who started the rumor? Rain is likely to start soon.

3 : to begin to move toward a particular place or in a particular direction Let's start for home.

4 : to cause to move, act, or operate I'll try to start the motor.

5 : to give a sudden twitch or jerk (as in surprise)

6 : to stick out or seem to stick out Their eyes started from the sockets.



Kids Definition of start (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a sudden twitching or jerking movement a start of surprise

2 : a beginning of movement, action, or development I got an early start.

3 : a brief act, movement, or effort They work by fits and starts.

4 : a place of beginning (as of a race)

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