See more synonyms for starter on
  1. a person or thing that starts.
  2. a person who gives the signal to begin, as for a race, the running of a train, bus, elevator, etc.
  3. a device that starts an internal-combustion engine without a need for cranking by hand.
  4. a person or thing that starts in a race or contest: Only five starters finished the race.
  5. a culture of bacteria used to start a particular fermentation, as in the manufacture of cheese, buttermilk, sour cream, etc.
  6. Cookery. sourdough(def 1).
  7. Slang. a shill, as at a gaming table in a casino.
  8. Cribbage. the card turned face up on the stack before the play.
  1. constituting a basis or beginning: a starter set of dishes; a starter home.
  1. for starters, Informal. as the first step or part; initially; first: We will have soup for starters. For starters, he doesn't even know how to drive.

Origin of starter

First recorded in 1530–40; start + -er1 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for starter

opener, originator, pioneer, innovator, inventor, initiator

Examples from the Web for starter

Contemporary Examples of starter

Historical Examples of starter

  • The Starter made answer with a smile of good-humored tolerance.


    W. A. Fraser

  • What could be more noble than the start and the starter of Christianity?

  • For a starter, then, takin' your say-so for it, you're a Southern man?'

    Faro Nell and Her Friends

    Alfred Henry Lewis

  • Opened an account in my name, and fatted it up good and sweet, as a starter.

    Shorty McCabe

    Sewell Ford

  • She was fussing with the starter by this time, but she smiled up at him and shook her head.


    Alice Hegan Rice

British Dictionary definitions for starter


  1. a device for starting an internal-combustion engine, usually consisting of a powerful electric motor that engages with the flywheelFormerly called self-starter
  2. US a person who organizes the timely departure of buses, trains, etc
  3. a person who supervises and signals the start of a race
  4. a competitor who starts in a race or contest
  5. informal, mainly Australian and NZ an acceptable or practicable proposition, plan, idea, etc
  6. Australian and NZ informal a person who is willing to engage in a particular activity
  7. a culture of bacteria used to start fermentation, as in making cheese or yogurt
  8. mainly British the first course of a meal
  9. (modifier) designed to be used by a novicea starter kit
  10. for starters slang in the first place
  11. under starter's orders
    1. (of horses in a race) awaiting the start signal
    2. (of a person) eager or ready to begin
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 starter

c.1400, stertour "instigator; one who starts," agent noun from start (v.). For starters "to begin with" is 1873, American English colloquial. Starter home is from 1976; starter set is from 1946, originally of china.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper