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



    BrE BrE//bɪˈɡɪn//
    ; NAmE NAmE//bɪˈɡɪn//
    Verb Forms present simple I / you / we / they begin
    BrE BrE//bɪˈɡɪn//
    ; NAmE NAmE//bɪˈɡɪn//
    he / she / it begins
    BrE BrE//bɪˈɡɪnz//
    ; NAmE NAmE//bɪˈɡɪnz//
    past simple began
    BrE BrE//bɪˈɡæn//
    ; NAmE NAmE//bɪˈɡæn//
    past participle begun
    BrE BrE//bɪˈɡʌn//
    ; NAmE NAmE//bɪˈɡʌn//
    -ing form beginning
    BrE BrE//bɪˈɡɪnɪŋ//
    ; NAmE NAmE//bɪˈɡɪnɪŋ//
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  1. 1  [intransitive, transitive] to start doing something; to do the first part of something Shall I begin? begin at/with something Let's begin at page 9. begin by doing something She began by thanking us all for coming. begin something We began work on the project in May. I began (= started reading) this novel last month and I still haven't finished it. begin something at/with something He always begins his lessons with a warm-up exercise. begin something as something He began his political career as a student (= when he was a student). begin to do something I began to feel dizzy. At last the guests began to arrive. She began to cry. It was beginning to snow. I was beginning to think you'd never come. begin doing something Everyone began talking at once. When will you begin recruiting? 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 Language BankfirstOrdering your points This study has the following aims: first, to investigate how international students in the UK use humour; second, to examine how jokes can help to establish social relationships; and, third, to explore the role that humour plays in helping overseas students adjust to life in the UK. Let us begin by identifying some of the popular joke genres in the UK. Next, let us turn to/Next, let us consider the question of gender differences in the use of humour. Finally/Lastly, let us briefly examine the role of humour in defining a nation’s culture.
  2. 2  [intransitive] to start to happen or exist, especially from a particular time When does the concert begin? Work on the new bridge is due to begin in September. The evening began well. 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.
  3. 3  [intransitive] begin as something to be something first, before becoming something else He began as an actor, before starting to direct films. What began as a minor scuffle turned into a full-scale riot.
  4. 4  [intransitive] to have something as the first part or the point where something starts Where does Europe end and Asia begin? begin with something Use ‘an’ before words beginning with a vowel. ‘I'm thinking of a country in Asia.’ ‘What does it begin with (= what is the first letter)?’ Each chapter begins with a quotation. begin at… The path begins at Livingston village.
  5. 5  [transitive] + speech to start speaking ‘Ladies and gentlemen,’ he began, ‘welcome to the Town Hall.’
  6. 6  [intransitive, transitive] to start or make something start for the first time The school began in 1920, with only ten pupils. begin something He began a new magazine on post-war architecture.
  7. 7[transitive] not begin to do something to make no attempt to do something or have no chance of doing something I can't begin to thank you enough. He didn't even begin to understand my problem.
  8. Word OriginOld English beginnan, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch and German beginnen.Extra examples Begin your story at the beginning, and carry on to the end. Can you think of a word beginning with V? He took a deep breath and slowly began. Let’s begin by writing down a few ideas. OK, let’s just begin at the beginning. Once it has finished, the DVD automatically begins again. Research into the problem began immediately. The concert will begin shortly. The entertainment was due to begin at 8.30. Their troubles are only beginning. We had to begin all over again. We will begin with a brief discussion of the problems. Work on the building finally began in the summer. He began his political career as a student. I began this novel last month and I still haven’t finished it. I was beginning to think you’d never come. The story begins on the island of Corfu.Idioms (saying) you should help and care for your own family, etc. before you start helping other people
    1. 1  at first I found it tiring to begin with but I soon got used to it. We'll go slowly to begin with.
    2. 2  used to introduce the first point you want to make ‘What was it you didn't like?’ ‘Well, to begin with, our room was far too small.’
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: begin