American English

Definition of start verb from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



    Verb Forms present simple I / you / we / they start
    he / she / it starts
    past simple started
    -ing form starting
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    doing something
  1. 1[transitive, intransitive] to begin doing or using something start something I start work at nine. He's just started a new job. I only started (= began to read) this book yesterday. We need to start (= begin using) a new can of coffee. The kids start school next week. start to do something It started to rain. Mistakes were starting to creep in. start doing something She started laughing. start (on something) It's a long story. Where should I start? It's time for you to start doing your homework. Can you start (= a new job) on Monday? start by doing something Let's start by reviewing what we did last week. + adj. The best professional musicians start young. Which Word?begin / start There is not much difference in meaning between begin and start, though start is more common in spoken English:What time does the concert start/begin? She started/began working here three months ago.Begin is often used when you are describing a series of events:The story begins on the island of Cuba.Start, but not begin, can also mean “to start a journey,” “to start something happening,” or “to start a machine working”:We’ll need to start (out) at 7.00. Who do you think started the fire? The car won’t start. You can use either an infinitive or a present participle after begin and start, with no difference in meaning:I didn’t start worrying/to worry until she was 2 hours late. After the forms beginning and starting, a present participle is not normally used:It’s starting/beginning to rain. It’s starting/beginning raining.
  2. happening
  3. 2[intransitive, transitive] to start happening; to make something start happening When does the class start? Have you any idea where the rumor started? start something Who started the fire? Do you start the day with a good breakfast? You're always trying to start an argument. start somebody/something doing something The news started me thinking.
  4. machine/vehicle
  5. 3[transitive, intransitive] start (something) when you start a machine or a vehicle or it starts, it begins to operate Start your engines! I can't get the car started. The car won't start.
  6. existing
  7. 4[intransitive, transitive] to begin to exist; to make something begin to exist start (up) There are a lot of small businesses starting up in that area. start something They decided to start a catering business. She started a yoga class at work.
  8. journey
  9. 5[intransitive] start (out) to begin a journey; to leave synonym set off, set out What time are we starting tomorrow?
  10. going/walking
  11. 6[intransitive] + adv./prep. to begin to move in a particular direction I started after her (= began to follow her) to tell her the news. He started for the door, but I blocked his way.
  12. in particular way/from place/level
  13. 7[intransitive, transitive] to begin, or to begin something such as a career, in a particular way that changed later start as something She started as a secretary but ended up running the department. start out/off (as something) The company started out with 30 employees. start something (as something) He started life as a teacher before turning to journalism.
  14. 8[intransitive] + adv./prep. to begin from a particular place, amount, or situation The trail starts just outside the town. Hotel prices start at $100 a night for a double room. The evening started badly when the speaker failed to turn up.
  15. move suddenly
  16. 9[intransitive] to move suddenly and quickly because you are surprised or afraid synonym jump The sudden noise made her start.
  17. Thesaurusstartbegin start off kick off commence openThese words are all used to talk about things happening from the beginning, or people doing the first part of something.start to begin to happen or exist; to begin in a particular way or from a particular point:When does the class start?begin to start to happen or exist; to start in a particular way or from a particular point; to start speaking:When does the concert begin?start or begin?There is not much difference in meaning between these words. Start is more frequent in spoken English and in business contexts;begin is more frequent in written English and is often used when you are describing a series of events:The story begins on the island of Corfu.Start is not used to mean “begin speaking”:“Ladies and gentlemen,” he started.start off (somewhat informal) to start happening or to start doing something; to start by doing or being something:The discussion started off mildly enough.kick off (informal) to start an event or activity, especially in a particular way; (of an event, activity, etc.) to start, especially in a particular way:Tom will kick off with a few comments. The festival kicks off on Monday with a free concert.commence (formal) to start happening:The negotiations are scheduled to commence at to start an event or activity in a particular way; (of an event, movie, or book) to start, especially in a particular way:The story opens with a murder.Patterns to start/begin/start off/kick off/commence/open with something to start/begin/start off/kick off/commence/open by doing something to start/begin/start off as something a campaign/season/meeting starts/begins/starts off/kicks off/commences/opens a play/show/movie/book starts/begins/starts off/opensIdioms
    alarm bells ring/start ringing, (something) sets off alarm bells
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    if you say that alarm bells are ringing or that something sets off alarm bells, you mean that people are starting to feel worried and suspicious The government's proposal has set alarm bells ringing for people on low incomes.
    don't (you) start (informal)
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    used to tell someone not to complain or be critical Don't start! I told you I'd be late.
    get/set/start/keep the ball rolling
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    to make something start happening; to make sure that something continues to happen
    get/start off on the right/wrong foot (with somebody) (informal)
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    to start a relationship well/badly I seem to have gotten off on the wrong foot with the new boss.
    get started
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    to begin doing something It's almost ten o'clock. Let's get started.
    start something (informal)
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    to cause trouble
      to start with
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    1. 1used when you are giving the first and most important reason for something To start with, it's much too expensive.
    2. 2at the beginning The organization had a very small budget to start with. I'll have melon to start with. She wasn't crazy about the idea to start with.
    you, he, she, etc. started it (informal)
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    you, he, she, etc. began a fight or an argument “Stop fighting, you two!” “He started it!”
    Phrasal Verbsstart backstart offstart somebody off (on something)start on somebodystart outstart overstart up
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: start