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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Begin \Be*gin"\, v. i. [imp. & p. p. Began, Begun; p. pr. & vb. n. Beginning.] [AS. beginnan (akin to OS. biginnan, D. & G. beginnen, OHG. biginnan, Goth., du-ginnan, Sw. begynna, Dan. begynde); pref. be- + an assumed ginnan. [root]3

  1. See Gin to begin.] 1. To have or commence an independent or first existence; to take rise; to commence.

    Vast chain of being! which from God began.

  2. To do the first act or the first part of an action; to enter upon or commence something new, as a new form or state of being, or course of action; to take the first step; to start. ``Tears began to flow.''

    When I begin, I will also make an end.
    --1 Sam. iii. 12.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

past tense of begin.


vb. (en-simple past of: begin)

  1. v. take the first step or steps in carrying out an action; "We began working at dawn"; "Who will start?"; "Get working as soon as the sun rises!"; "The first tourists began to arrive in Cambodia"; "He began early in the day"; "Let's get down to work now" [syn: get down, get, start out, start, set about, set out, commence] [ant: end]

  2. have a beginning, in a temporal, spatial, or evaluative sense; "The DMZ begins right over the hill"; "The second movement begins after the Allegro"; "Prices for these homes start at $250,000" [syn: start] [ant: end]

  3. set in motion, cause to start; "The U.S. started a war in the Middle East"; "The Iraqis began hostilities"; "begin a new chapter in your life" [syn: lead off, start, commence] [ant: end]

  4. begin to speak or say; "Now listen, friends," he began

  5. be the first item or point, constitute the beginning or start, come first in a series; "The number 'one' begins the sequence"; "A terrible murder begins the novel"; "The convocation ceremoney officially begins the semester"

  6. have a beginning, of a temporal event; "WWII began in 1939 when Hitler marched into Poland"; "The company's Asia tour begins next month"

  7. have a beginning characterized in some specified way; "The novel begins with a murder"; "My property begins with the three maple trees"; "Her day begins with a work-out"; "The semester begins with a convocation ceremony" [syn: start]

  8. begin an event that is implied and limited by the nature or inherent function of the direct object; "begin a cigar"; "She started the soup while it was still hot"; "We started physics in 10th grade" [syn: start]

  9. achieve or accomplish in the least degree, usually used in the negative; "This economic measure doesn't even begin to deal with the problem of inflation"; "You cannot even begin to understand the problem we had to deal with during the war"

  10. begin to speak, understand, read, and write a language; "She began Russian at an early age"; "We started French in fourth grade"

  11. [also: begun, beginning, began]


See begin

Usage examples of "began".

When Esther and I were alone I began to compliment her, much to her delight, on the cleverness of her answer, the elegance of her style, and her boldness, for she could not be as well acquainted with French affairs as I was.

Those two handsome adepts of Terpsichore had never met before, and they began an amorous warfare which made me enjoy my supper immensely, because, as he was a fellow artist, Marina assumed towards Baletti a tone well adapted to the circumstances, and very different to her usual manner with other men.

These two Bacchantes began to imitate the caresses I lavished on my housekeeper, who was quite astonished at the amorous fury with which my attendant played the part of a man with the other girl.

She began by laughing and saying that she knew I was amorous, and that it was my fault if I were not happy, but that she would do my business for me.

I then began to caress her, and to make assaults in the style of an amorous man, but it was all in vain, though I succeeded in stretching her on a large sofa.

Donna Ignazia began a pleasant and amorous discourse, thinking the girl to be as learned in the laws of love as herself.

After I had given her a strong proof of my love, I told her of my adventure with Anastasia, and then our amorous exploits began again, and I did not leave her till I had spent two most delicious hours.

For two hours she told me the history of her unfortunate amour, and as she told it well I began to take a liking for her.

Instead of answering with a caress, as she ought to have done, she began to cry.

I went upstairs, she following, and I began to undress, apologizing for doing so before her.

When I went to bed, still thinking of Clementine, I began to reflect seriously, and I was astonished to find that during all the hours we had spent together she had not caused the slightest sensual feeling to arise in me.

The nobleman commented briefly on these diverse kinds of love, but when he came to the love of God he began to soar, and I was greatly astonished to see Marcoline shedding tears, which she wiped away hastily as if to hide them from the sight of the worthy old man whom wine had made more theological than usual.

The abbe was astonished to see me, and began a polite speech, although I did not favour him with so much as a look.

My soul and mind were so astonished by the shock that I began to think I should never see Edgar again.

The organ of memory began to develop itself in me at the beginning of August, 1733.