There are 2 main definitions of start in English:

Share this entry

start 1

Pronunciation: /stɑːt/


1 [no object] Begin or be reckoned from a particular point in time or space; come into being: the season starts in September we ate before the film started below Roaring Springs the real desert starts
More example sentences
  • The film starts at 7.45 pm and there will be a smoking ban during the performance.
  • Training camp for officials begins Friday, and the regular season starts Nov. 2.
  • The gates will open at 4.45 pm, one hour before the concert starts.
begin, get under way, go ahead, get going
informal kick off
formal commence
come into being, begin, be born, come into existence, appear, arrive, come forth, emerge, erupt, burst out, arise, originate, break, unfold, develop, crop up, first see the light of day
formal commence
1.1Embark on a continuing action or a new venture: I’m starting on a new book [with infinitive or present participle]: I started to chat to him we plan to start building in the autumn
More example sentences
  • I should continue what I started and take more classes so I can get a certificate out of it.
  • As we approached the coast we started to fly over buildings and roads, growing denser the closer we got to the airport.
  • Riley starts to push me forward, but I turn around and push his hands off of me.
make a start, begin, make a beginning, take the first step, lay the first stone, make the first move, get going, go ahead, set things moving, take something forward, buckle to/down, turn to, put one's shoulder to the wheel, put one's hand to the plough, start/get/set the ball rolling
informal get moving, get cracking, get stuck in, get down to it, get to it, get down to business, get one's finger out, get the show on the road, take the plunge, kick off, pitch in, get off one's backside, fire away
British informal get weaving
formal commence
1.2Use a particular point, action, or circumstance as an opening for a course of action: the teacher can start by capitalizing on children’s curiosity I shall start with the case you mention first
More example sentences
  • So if you want to have a crack at rockabilly, you can start with a few free lyrics and chords from the band's albums.
  • Can you start by introducing yourself and the core members of the development team?
  • So I decided to start by flushing out the things I am inspired to write about.
1.3 [no object, with adverbial of direction] Begin to move or travel: we started out into the snow he started for the door
More example sentences
  • Gently closing the door behind her she started down the stairs rubbing her eyes free from sleep as she did so.
  • Renfrew started forward, suddenly aware that he had not just been talking to himself.
  • I started towards the double doors, thinking that I should explain in person.
set off, set out, start out, set forth, begin one's journey, get on the road, depart, leave, get under way, make a start, sally forth, embark, sail
informal hit the road, hit the trail, push off
archaic set forward
1.4 [with object] Begin to engage in (an occupation), live through (a period), or attend (an educational establishment): she will start school today he started work at a travel agent they started their married life
More example sentences
  • They are set to start work today and will follow recommendations from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister.
  • And now the man who started cutting hair as a boy is beginning to out-Sassoon Vidal.
  • She started night classes in 1997 and quickly developed a taste for medieval and early modern history.
1.5Begin one’s working life: he started as a mess orderly he started off as doctor in the house
More example sentences
  • He started off as a monk, then when he met the prerequisites he started down the path of a technology monk.
  • Some of our leading politicians started their political careers from there.
  • He started in theatre and began getting involved in film productions nine years ago.
1.6Cost at least a specified amount: fees start at £300
More example sentences
  • A basic bed, shower and toilet will start at £10 a night, plus the cost of disposable linen.
  • A detached stone cottage to the north of the region will start at about £160,000.
  • Prices start at #20 for two fish but includes catch and release on the main loch should you reach your limit.
2 [with object] Cause to happen or begin: two men started the blaze those women started all the trouble I’m starting a campaign to get the law changed
More example sentences
  • Fire chiefs believe the blaze may have been started by arsonists.
  • A Hampshire firefighter became an arsonist so that he would be called out to the blazes he had started himself.
  • There were also more than 2,000 rubbish blazes started by firebugs in Bradford.
establish, set up, found, lay the foundations of, lay the cornerstone of, lay the first stone of, sow the seeds of, create, bring into being, institute, initiate, inaugurate, introduce, open, begin, launch, float, kick-start, put in place, get something off the ground, get something going, get something moving, get something working, get something functioning, activate, originate, pioneer, organize, mastermind, embark on, make a start on, tackle, set about
2.1Cause (a machine) to begin to work: we had trouble starting the car he starts up his van
More example sentences
  • It's quite amazing; the merest hint of a parking ticket is enough to start car engines at almost a hundred metres.
  • You'd be surprised at what can be done to make the flight safer before starting the engine
  • He seemed to be having some trouble starting the little cutting machine up.
activate, set in motion, switch on, turn on, fire up;
energize, actuate, set off, start off, get/set something going/moving, start something functioning, start something operating, kick-start
2.2 [no object] (Of a machine) begin operating or being used: the noise of a lorry starting up there was a moment of silence before the organ started
More example sentences
  • Soon, she heard the engine starting and the sound of the Land Rover rolling out of the driveway.
  • They returned to their nearby home, went to bed and shortly afterwards, the car alarm started.
  • The caboose starts suddenly, then eases to a gentle roll.
begin working, start functioning, get going, start operating
2.3Cause or enable to begin doing something: his father started him off in business [with object and present participle]: what he said started me thinking
More example sentences
  • Now, a sports column is nothing more than a springboard, a gig that starts you on your way to becoming a multimedia star.
  • It was no doubt the arrival of the ZX Spectrum that started him on his career.
  • She credits childhood reading of Arthur C. Clarke and Isaac Asimov for starting her on her career.
2.4Give a signal to (competitors) to start in a race.
Example sentences
  • Then he starts a Slam Dunk competition between Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady.
  • She took centre stage when starting last year's junior race before joining in to raise more cash for Francis House.
  • He started the first running race and cheered the young athletes on in the warm sunshine.
3 [no object] Jerk or give a small jump from surprise or alarm: ‘Oh my!’ she said, starting
More example sentences
  • Everyone started, surprised, until they realised it had been the Queen speaking.
  • She started and jumped up, looking at Tobias with an expression that was close to fright.
  • Cinaed started slightly in surprise as he heard the door he had set his back to start to open.
3.1 [no object, with adverbial of direction] literary Move or appear suddenly: she had seen Meg start suddenly from a thicket
jump, leap, spring, bound, dash, charge, pounce, dive, rush, dart
3.2(Of eyes) bulge so as to appear to burst out of their sockets: his eyes started out of his head like a hare’s
More example sentences
  • Then she came wriggling back, with repentant doleful eyes starting upward and a knife behind her back.
  • She looked at me with her round eyes starting from her face, and then turned over her shoulder to see if her gasp had alerted anyone.
3.3Be displaced or displace by pressure or shrinkage: [no object]: the mortar in the joints had started
More example sentences
  • It was nothing to explain the leakage - the wrecking of the upper works had warped the hull and started the seams - and, for a little, 'twas nothing, with patches and a hose laid to the steam pump, to keep the water back.
  • The seas continuously swept over her, and finally started the seams in her decks, washed off the tarpaulins which had been placed over the hatches and battened down, and resulted in great damage to the wheat from the sea water pouring over it through the deck seams and hatches of the ship.
3.4 [with object] Rouse (game) from its lair.


[usually in singular]
1The point in time or space at which something has its origin; the beginning: he takes over as chief executive at the start of next year the event was a shambles from start to finish his bicycle was found close to the start of a forest trail
More example sentences
  • From start to finish the whole operation was ill-conceived, hurriedly executed and bungled.
  • The start and finish of this linear route are poorly served by public transport.
  • From start to finish, the treatment of the defendants was a travesty of legal due process.
1.1The point or moment at which a race begins: make sure you are not over the line at the start
More example sentences
  • He ate, drank and stretched and at 9am lined up at the start, to begin his second marathon.
  • However today my race was really over when I stalled the car at the start and had to begin my race from the pit lane.
  • It begins with a mass start and the aim is simply to cross the finishing line first.
1.2An act of beginning to do or deal with something: I can make a start on cleaning up an early start enabled us to avoid the traffic
More example sentences
  • The home side made a good start with early scores and were well in command for the first half.
  • His weight alarmed the club's coaching staff and led to a sluggish start to the season.
  • We make an immediate start to constructing a coal-fired power station in Fife.
1.3Used to indicate that a useful initial contribution has been made but that more remains to be done: if he would tell her who had put him up to it, it would be a start
More example sentences
  • I think this might be a good start for building something more solid with your mother.
  • It doesn't need to be done every 15 minutes, like News, but every 6 hours would be a start.
  • Going to the gym for an hour is a great start, but what about the rest of the day?
1.4A person’s position or circumstances at the beginning of their life: she’s anxious to give her baby the best start in life
More example sentences
  • But, vital as good maternity services are, they're only one part of the picture when it comes to giving our children the best possible start in life.
  • When you are pregnant, you can give your baby the best start in life by refusing to use tobacco, alcohol and other drugs, including over-the-counter medications, unless ordered by your doctor.
  • And how can we make sure they're getting the best possible start in life?
advantageous beginning, flying start, opening, opportunity, chance, helping hand, encouragement, lift, assistance, support, boost, kick-start
informal break, leg up
1.5An advantage consisting in having set out in a race or on a journey earlier than one’s rivals: he had a ninety-minute start on them
More example sentences
  • Sulamani was not too well away and gave most of his rivals plenty of start.
  • It world take forever to find the pair in town, especially with nearly an hour head start.
  • His oldest brother, Tory, would give him an hour's head start before following in his car.
lead, head start, advantage, advantageous position
2A sudden movement of surprise or alarm: she awoke with a start the woman gave a nervous start
More example sentences
  • Within the ship Odin looked up with a start as footsteps thudded on the hull.
  • The next thing I knew an alarm was going off and I woke with a start.
  • Bin Rahim shot up with a start, bewildered as to why he had a sudden pain in his side.
2.1 dated A surprising occurrence: you hear of some rum starts there
More example sentences
  • It came as a start to realise the image is nearly 30 years old.



don't start (or don't you start)

informal Used to tell someone not to grumble or criticize: don’t start—I do my fair share
More example sentences
  • I've been keeping the conversation moving so Buffy here doesn't blubber, so don't you start or we'll be having to blow dry my dress.
  • Your mom's already gonna kick your dad out for it, don't you start too.
  • Lenni corrected, rolling her eyes, ‘So don't you start.’

for a start

informal Used to introduce the first or most important of a number of considerations: this side are at an advantage—for a start, there are more of them
More example sentences
  • The advantages of such programs are far higher recovery rates, for a start.
  • It is important to point out, for a start, that this is not a national security risk.
  • Well, for a start, I think that we should pursue an independent foreign policy.

get started

Begin a task, endeavour, or process: for an art gallery owner, Naples was a good place to get started
More example sentences
  • You can go the other way round and just get started doing computer animation.
  • There are some interesting experiments of start-up business incubators that have been designed to help new small businesses get started.
  • She suggests that aspiring entrepreneurs consider this seven-step guide to get started.

get the start of

dated Gain an advantage over: I laughed to think how I had got the start of them
More example sentences
  • There was a lot of heat there, I remember sort of getting the start of that heat and then going out.
  • Cross got the start of a lifetime and pumped his way into a widening lead, flashing across the finish line with the day's fastest time, 18.800 seconds.
  • The secrets of victory thus lie in taking the initiative, and in getting the start of one's adversary there are included the following factors.

start a family

Conceive one’s first child.
Example sentences
  • At the time, Newberry and her husband, Maurice, were in the Air Force, starting a family and attending grad school.
  • He still feels that way, but his keen focus on becoming mayor of his hometown has dulled somewhat now that he's started a family and established roots in Houston.
  • If a couple are considering starting a family they may approach their general practitioner for advice on conceiving.

start a hare

see hare.

start something

informal Cause trouble: you needn’t worry about having started something
More example sentences
  • Please don't try to start something in here.
  • If other people that they don't know come around started something, the gang would most likely get involved.

to start with

At first: she wasn’t very keen on the idea to start with
More example sentences
  • OK, so lots of people think that going deep into a dark, narrow cave is a bad idea to start with.
  • Ren had been against the idea to start with saying it was too public, there was too great a risk that someone would recognise one of us.
  • The audience sat sedately to start with, expecting a traditional folk dance.
8.1As the first thing to be taken into account: to start with, I was feeling down
More example sentences
  • It's causing me worry and depression and my health is not good to start with because I have emphysema and arthritis.
  • So, to start with, these are the films that I could watch over and over.
  • It just makes me wonder who the heck has called him a genius to start with?

Phrasal verbs


start again

chiefly British Abandon what one is doing and make a new beginning: while I was writing this essay my computer froze and I had to start again
More example sentences
  • Kevin guessed his family didn't know she had started again.
  • Shields finally will get his chance to start again next fall with the Ducks.
  • The weekly jazz nights will start again in February next year.

start in

Begin doing something, especially talking: people groan when she starts in about her acting ambitions
More example sentences
  • He ran the fastball, you know, the one that kind of starts in and goes back over the plate.
  • Fred starts in on how, this week, he chose some of his wife's best clothes, some of the clothes which he says were custom made, and offered them to his neighbor and, as a result, he feels that he has made progress and is coping better.
  • She agreed, stubbornly, and I started in on what Folttel had told me, and watched as Jana's eyes went slowly and slowly wider.
(start in on) North American 2.1 Begin to do or deal with: she started in on her face
More example sentences
  • Then, at 10:00 am, he started in on the last remaining manuals.
  • Once we were home, we started in on the outside decorations.
  • It was 7: 30, almost dark, by the time Geoff started in on his 21st consecutive, and final, operation.
(start in on) North American 2.2 Attack verbally; begin to criticize.
Example sentences
  • But when she and Mack left, they started in on how fat she was.
  • I could tell Anna was getting ready to start in on how if I just applied myself more often I could have more ‘productive days’.
  • We get more done than she sometimes gives us credit for, which does cause me considerable frustration when she starts in on the, ‘We never do anything,’ riff that is one of her specialties.

start off (or start someone/thing off)

Begin (or cause someone or something to begin) to operate or do something: treatment should start off with attention to diet what started you off on this search?
More example sentences
  • I gave his mother a hug when she began to cry, she started me off too, and just then I noticed that she must have been hurting more than I was.
  • Thanks to Nick for starting me off on reading Robert Rankin.
  • The ceremonies were started off with a Catholic mass in the cathedral in Monaco.

start on

informal Begin to criticize someone: she started on about my not having proper furniture
More example sentences
  • Yeah, okay he didn't win as many matches as he would have wanted to, but he has set up a very good platform for the nest manager to start on.
  • I now have a wheelchair and a pair of crutches and I will soon be starting on a new course of medicine to try and deal with the various medical problems.
  • This next one seems to have plenty to keep me occupied, so I'd better go off and begin drafting the review before starting on the next one.

start over

North American way of saying start again. could you face going back to school and starting over?
More example sentences
  • Imagine reading 20 pages of a book and then starting over at the beginning.
  • This produced such an uproar that the initial selection process had to be scrapped and started over from the beginning.
  • A failed referendum means the arduous process starts over.

start out (or up)

Embark on a venture or undertaking, especially a commercial one: the company will start out with a hundred employees
More example sentences
  • The money went to the Prince's Trust to help young people start up new business ventures.
  • What are the biggest traps to look out for when starting out in a venture like this?
  • He enjoyed the process so much, he's started up Flint, a new venture, already.


Old 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.'.

  • Old English styrtan meant ‘to caper, leap’. From the sense ‘sudden movement’ arose the meaning ‘initiation of movement, setting out on a journey’, which then gave ‘beginning (of a process, etc.)’. Startle (Old English) comes from the same root. See also naked

Words that rhyme with start

apart, apparat, art, baht, Bart, Barthes, cart, carte, chart, clart, dart, Eilat, fart, ghat, Gujarat, Gujrat, hart, Harte, heart, heart-to-heart, impart, Jat, kart, kyat, Maat, Mansart, mart, outsmart, part, quarte, salat, savate, Scart, smart, tart, zakat

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: start

Share this entry

There are 2 main definitions of start in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /stɑːt/


Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, an agreement between the US and the Soviet Union to limit and reduce strategic nuclear weapons, first signed in 1991.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: START

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.