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From Middle English beginnen, from Old English beginnan (to begin), from Proto-Germanic *biginnaną (to begin) (compare West Frisian begjinne, Low German begünnen, Dutch and German beginnen), from a root *ginnaną also found in Old English onginnan, Old Saxon andginnan and Dutch ontginnen, possibly from Proto-Indo-European *gʰed- (to take) (compare Welsh genni (to delve, submerge oneself), Latin prehendō (to grasp, nab), Albanian (to catch), Ancient Greek χανδάνω (khandánō, to hold, contain)).


  • IPA(key): /bɪˈɡɪn/, /bəˈɡɪn/, /biˈɡɪn/
  • (file)
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɪn


begin (third-person singular simple present begins, present participle beginning, simple past began, past participle begun)

  1. (transitive, intransitive) To start, to initiate or take the first step into something.
    I began playing the piano at the age of five.   Now that everyone is here, we should begin the presentation.
    • John Locke (1632-1705)
      The apostle begins our knowledge in the creatures, which leads us to the knowledge of God.
    • Alexander Pope (1688-1744)
      Ye nymphs of Solyma! begin the song.
    • 1898, Winston Churchill, chapter 4, in The Celebrity:
      Mr. Cooke at once began a tirade against the residents of Asquith for permitting a sandy and generally disgraceful condition of the roads. So roundly did he vituperate the inn management in particular, and with such a loud flow of words, that I trembled lest he should be heard on the veranda.
    • 1913, Joseph C. Lincoln, chapter 5, in Mr. Pratt's Patients:
      Of all the queer collections of humans outside of a crazy asylum, it seemed to me this sanitarium was the cup winner. […] When you're well enough off so's you don't have to fret about anything but your heft or your diseases you begin to get queer, I suppose.
    • 2013 June 29, “Unspontaneous combustion”, in The Economist, volume 407, number 8842, page 29:
      Since the mid-1980s, when Indonesia first began to clear its bountiful forests on an industrial scale in favour of lucrative palm-oil plantations, “haze” has become an almost annual occurrence in South-East Asia.
  2. (intransitive) To be in the first stage of some situation
    The program begins at 9 o'clock on the dot.    I rushed to get to class on time, but the lesson had already begun.
  3. (intransitive) To come into existence.


Related termsEdit



begin (plural begins)

  1. (nonstandard) Beginning; start.





  • IPA(key): /bə.ˈɣɪn/
  • (file)
  • Hyphenation: be‧gin
  • Rhymes: -ɪn


begin n (uncountable, diminutive beginnetje n)

  1. start, beginning


Derived termsEdit



  1. first-person singular present indicative of beginnen
  2. imperative of beginnen


Middle DutchEdit


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begin n

  1. beginning, start
  2. origin, source


This noun needs an inflection-table template.


Further readingEdit

  • beghin (I)”, in Vroegmiddelnederlands Woordenboek, 2000
  • begin”, in Middelnederlandsch Woordenboek, 1929