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start - definition and synonyms


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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.



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verb start pronunciation in British English /stɑː(r)t/
Word Forms
present tense
present participlestarting
past tensestarted
past participlestarted
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  1. 1
    [intransitive] to begin to happen or take place
    Work has started on a new terminal at Heathrow Airport.
    The World Championships start in two weeks’ time.
    The show has just started.
    What time does school start in the morning?
    start as: The riot started as a dispute between neighbours.
    1. a.
      used about a change, movement, process etc
      Cellular decay starts at the moment of death.
      start doing/to do something: The leaves have started falling off the trees.
      The traffic had started to move more freely now.
      His confidence is starting to crumble.
      It’s starting to rain.
  2. 2
    [intransitive/transitive] used for saying that someone begins to do something
    Please start when you are ready.
    Have you started the washing-up yet?
    start by: Let’s start by defining our terms.
    start with: The class starts with some gentle stretching exercises.
    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.
      New York started the new century with a massive fireworks display.
    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 journey
    We started early enough but got caught in the London 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 £18.
      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 begin to work
      No matter how many times he tried, the car wouldn’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



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