Definition of start verb from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//stɑːt//
    ; NAmE NAmE//stɑːrt//
    Verb Forms present simple I / you / we / they start
    BrE BrE//stɑːt//
    ; NAmE NAmE//stɑːrt//
    he / she / it starts
    BrE BrE//stɑːts//
    ; NAmE NAmE//stɑːrts//
    past simple started
    BrE BrE//ˈstɑːtɪd//
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈstɑːrtɪd//
    past participle started
    BrE BrE//ˈstɑːtɪd//
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈstɑːrtɪd//
    -ing form starting
    BrE BrE//ˈstɑːtɪŋ//
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈstɑːrtɪŋ//
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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 jar 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 shall I start? It's time you started on 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 Corfu. 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 at 7.00. Who do you think started the fire? The car won’t start. You can use either an infinitive or a form with -ing 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, the -ing form of the verb is not normally used:It’s starting/​beginning to rain. It’s starting/​beginning raining. Express YourselfConversation openersWhat can you say when you have to speak to someone for the first time or when you have to open a meeting? Here are some possible ways of starting a conversation or getting the audience's attention before a talk or speech: Do you mind if I sit here? Hello, is this seat taken? May I join you? Can I get you a coffee? Lovely weather we’re having!/Can you believe this rain/​wind/​cold/​sunshine? Excuse me, could I ask you a question? Shall we make a start? I think it's almost three o'clock. (British English) Shall we get started? I'd like to introduce our speaker.(especially North American English) I think everyone's here, so I'd like to welcome you to this conference.
  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 rumour 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. Synonymsstartbegin 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 (rather informal) to start happening or 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, September 13.commence (formal) to start happening:The meeting is scheduled to commence at noon.open to start an event or activity in a particular way; (of an event, a film/​movie or a 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/​commence as something a campaign/​season/​meeting starts/​begins/​starts off/​kicks off/​commences/​opens a film/​movie/​book starts/​begins/​starts off/​opens
  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 the 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 (up) 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 €50 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. See related entries: Surprise
  17. Word OriginOld English styrtan ‘to caper, leap’, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch storten ‘push’ and German stürzen ‘fall headlong, fling’. From the sense ‘sudden movement’ arose the sense ‘initiation of movement, setting out on a journey’ and hence ‘beginning of a process, etc.’.Extra examples A new term was about to start. At that point I just started to hate the man. By early evening he was ready to start work. He has just started at school. Her heart suddenly started to race. I’ll have to start again from scratch. I’ve finished decorating the bathroom, so now I can start on the bedroom. If you want to learn about frogs, this book is an excellent place to start. It started as a hobby and grew from there. It’s already late, so I think we should get started. It’s time to start thinking about next year. Let’s start with this first piece of music. She started up a conversation with the woman sitting next to her. Start from the beginning and tell me exactly what happened. We’ll just have to start all over again. We’ll start off by doing some warm-up exercises. Work is due to start this weekend. You’d better start packing if you’re to leave early tomorrow morning. He’s just started a new job. Hotel prices start at £65 a night for a double room. I only started this book yesterday. It’s time you started on your homework. We need to start a new jar of coffee. You’re always trying to start an argument. I can’t get the car started. I should get there by the afternoon if I start early. Make sure you’ve got everything before we start. She had started out late for the meeting. The car won’t start. They had started out from Saigon the previous day. They started out at five o’clock in the morning. What time do we start?Idioms
    alarm bells ring/start ringing
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    if you say that alarm bells are ringing, 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.
    (informal) used to tell somebody 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)
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    (informal) to start a relationship well/badly I seem to have got off on the wrong foot with the new boss.
    to begin doing something It's nearly ten o'clock. Let's get started. (informal) to cause trouble
    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 club had only six members to start with. I'll have melon to start with. She wasn't keen on the idea to start with.
    you, he, she, etc. started it
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    (informal) 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 on at somebody (about something)start outstart overstart up
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: start