Did you know?

Click any word in a definition or example to find the entry for that word

start - definition and synonyms

What are red words?

90% of the time, speakers of English use just 7,500 words in speech and writing. These words appear in red, and are graded with stars. One-star words are frequent, two-star words are more frequent, and three-star words are the most frequent.

Thesaurus diagram

The thesaurus of synonyms and related words is fully integrated into the dictionary. Click on the thesaurus category heading under the button in an entry to see the synonyms and related words for that meaning.

verb     start pronunciation in American English
Word Forms
present tense
present participlestarting
past tensestarted
past participlestarted
  1. 1
    [intransitive] to begin to happen or take place

    The World Championships start in two weeks.

    The show has just started.

    What time does school start in the morning?

    start as:

    The riot started as a dispute between neighbors.

    1. a.
      used about a change, movement, process, etc.
      start doing/to do something:

      The leaves have started falling off the trees.

      The traffic had started to move more freely now.

      It’s starting to rain.

  2. 2
    [intransitive/transitive] used for saying that someone begins to do something

    Please start when you are ready.

    start by:

    Let’s start by defining our terms.

    start with:

    The class starts with some gentle stretching exercises.

    Have you started the laundry yet?

    start doing something:

    Everyone in the class started laughing.

    start to do something:

    I started to unpack my suitcase.

    1. a.
      [intransitive/transitive] to begin a new job, career, or period of education

      When do they want you to start?

      Things were very different when I started in politics.

      I started as an office boy and worked my way to the top.

      start work:

      I start work on Monday.

      start school/college:

      Children start school at age five.

    2. b.
      [transitive] to begin a period of time in a particular way
      start the day/week/year etc.:

      I usually start the day with a cup of coffee.

    3. c.
      [intransitive/transitive] to be involved in something at the beginning

      Of the 36 horses that started the race, only four finished.

  3. 3
    [intransitive/transitive] to begin a trip

    We started early enough but got caught in traffic.

    It was time to start the long walk back home.

    1. a.
      [intransitive] to move in a particular direction

      The footsteps came again, and then started up the stairs.

      start for:

      Guy started for the door.

  4. 4
    [intransitive] used for talking about the nearest end or edge of something

    The new houses start immediately beyond the bridge.

    1. a.
      used for talking about the lowest price or number
      start from/at:

      Prices for cushion covers start from $30.

      The house numbers start at 20.

  5. 5
    [transitive] to cause something, or to be the first person to do something

    Have you any idea who might have started the fire?

    The police insist that they didn’t start the confrontation.

    Who wants to start the discussion?

    “Don’t talk to me like that!” “You started it!”

    1. a.
      to cause someone to do something
      start someone doing something:

      What she said started me thinking.

    2. b.
      to bring a business, organization, or project into existence

      He decided to quit his job and start his own business.

  6. 6
    [transitive] to switch on a machine or engine, especially a motor vehicle

    Scott started the engine and drove off.

    1. a.
      [intransitive] to be switched on and begin to work

      The car won’t start.

  7. 7
    [intransitive] informal to begin to complain or be angry about something

    It only takes the slightest thing to make her start.

    Don’t start!

    Synonyms and related words
  8. 8
    [intransitive] to move suddenly because you are afraid or surprised by something

    The noise made him start.

See also
  • Facebook
  • Twitter


a lifestyle focussing on simple pleasures such as comfort and cosiness in the home, and spending time with friends and family

BuzzWord Article

Open Dictionary


a form of location that involves the underwater detonation of a bomb which causes sound waves that are picked up by ships

add a word


A must for anyone with an interest in the changing face of language. The Macmillan Dictionary blog explores English as it is spoken around the world today.

global English and language change from our blog
Macmillan learn live love play