See more synonyms for begun on
Related formshalf-be·gun, adjectivewell-be·gun, adjective


verb (used without object), be·gan, be·gun, be·gin·ning.
  1. to proceed to perform the first or earliest part of some action; commence; start: The story begins with their marriage.
  2. to come into existence; arise; originate: The custom began during the Civil War.
verb (used with object), be·gan, be·gun, be·gin·ning.
  1. to proceed to perform the first or earliest part of (some action): Begin the job tomorrow.
  2. to originate; be the originator of: civic leaders who began the reform movement.
  3. to succeed to the slightest extent in (followed by an infinitive): The money won't even begin to cover expenses.

Origin of begin

before 1000; Middle English beginnen, Old English beginnan, equivalent to be- be- + -ginnan to begin, perhaps orig. to open, akin to yawn

Synonyms for begin

See more synonyms for on

Synonym study

3. Begin, commence, initiate, start (when followed by noun or gerund) refer to setting into motion or progress something that continues for some time. Begin is the common term: to begin knitting a sweater. Commence is a more formal word, often suggesting a more prolonged or elaborate beginning: to commence proceedings in court. Initiate implies an active and often ingenious first act in a new field: to initiate a new procedure. Start means to make a first move or to set out on a course of action: to start paving a street.

Antonyms for begin

1. end. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for begun

Contemporary Examples of begun

Historical Examples of begun

  • She had begun to pull away in alarm when he seized her wrist.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • These concealed meetings, once begun, became an absorbing excitement.


    Thomas Wentworth Higginson

  • Light and buoyant as the child was, her tightened clasp had begun to tell on him.


    Thomas Wentworth Higginson

  • They have begun so cruelly with me, that I have not spirit enough to assert my own negative.

    Clarissa, Volume 1 (of 9)

    Samuel Richardson

  • I am more than delighted to find he has begun to take an interest in music.

    Weighed and Wanting

    George MacDonald

British Dictionary definitions for begun


  1. the past participle of begin


  1. Menachem (məˈnɑːkɪm). 1913–92, Israeli statesman, born in Poland. In Palestine after 1942, he became a leader of the militant Zionists; prime minister of Israel (1977–83); Nobel peace prize jointly with Sadat 1978. In 1979 he concluded the Camp David treaty with Anwar Sadat of Egypt


verb -gins, -ginning, -gan or -gun
  1. to start or cause to start (something or to do something)
  2. to bring or come into being for the first time; arise or originate
  3. to start to say or speak
  4. (used with a negative) to have the least capacity (to do something)he couldn't begin to compete with her
  5. to begin with in the first place

Word Origin for begin

Old English beginnan; related to Old High German biginnan, Gothic duginnan
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for begun

past participle of begin.



Old English beginnan "to begin, attempt, undertake," a rare word beside the more usual form onginnan (class III strong verb; past tense ongann, past participle ongunnen); from bi- (see be-) + West Germanbic *ginnan, of obscure meaning and found only in compounds, perhaps "to open, open up" (cf. Old High German in-ginnan "to cut open, open up," also "begin, undertake"), with sense evolution from "open" to "begin." Cognates elsewhere in Germanic include Old Frisian biginna "to begin," Middle Dutch beghinnen, Old High German beginnan, German beginnen, Old Frisian bijenna "to begin," Gothic duginnan.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with begun


In addition to the idioms beginning with begin

  • beginning of the end, the
  • begin to see daylight
  • begin to see the light
  • begin with

also see:

  • charity begins at home
  • (begin to) see the light
  • to start (begin) with
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.