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From Middle English beginnen, from Old English beginnan (to begin), from Proto-Germanic *biginnaną (to begin), from a base verb *ginnaną also found in Old English onginnan, possibly from Proto-Indo-European *gʰed- (to take).


  • IPA(key): /bɪˈɡɪn/, /bəˈɡɪn/, /biˈɡɪn/
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  • 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.
    • (Can we date this quote by John Locke and provide title, author's full name, and other details?)
      The apostle begins our knowledge in the creatures, which leads us to the knowledge of God.
    • (Can we date this quote by Alexander Pope and provide title, author's full name, and other details?)
      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.
    • (Can we date this quote by Alexander Pope and provide title, author's full name, and other details?)
      Vast chain of being! which from God began.


Derived termsEdit



begin (plural begins)

  1. (nonstandard) Beginning; start.





Etymology 1Edit

From Middle Dutch begin, from Old Dutch *bigin, *bigen, from Proto-Germanic *biginnaz (beginning), from Proto-Germanic *biginniną (to begin). Compare Old Dutch anagen, anagenni (beginning).


begin n (uncountable, diminutive beginnetje n)

  1. start, beginning

Etymology 2Edit

See the etymology of the main entry.



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


Middle DutchEdit


(This etymology is missing. Please add to it, or discuss it at the Etymology scriptorium.)


begin n

  1. beginning, start
  2. origin, source


This noun needs an inflection-table template.


  • Dutch: begin
  • Limburgish: begin

Further readingEdit

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



begin (nominative plural begins)

  1. beginning