beginning

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English[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]

Etymology[edit]

Verbal noun of begin.

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

beginning (countable and uncountable, plural beginnings)

  1. (uncountable) The act of doing that which begins anything; commencement of an action, state, or space of time; entrance into being or upon a course; the first act, effort, or state of a succession of acts or states.
  2. That which is begun; a rudiment or element.
  3. That which begins or originates something; the first cause; origin; source.
  4. The initial portion of some extended thing.
    The author describes the main character's youth at the beginning of the story
    That house is at the beginning of the street

Usage notes[edit]

"In the beginning" is an idiomatic expression that means "at first, initially"; it doesn't mean the same as "at the beginning".

The meaning of "at the beginning" is clear from its parts. This expression is used to refer to the time when or place where something starts; it is used to refer to points in time and space and also to fairly long periods of time and fairly large extents of space. ("At the beginning of the story" can be used to refer to both the first few sentences and to the first chapter or chapters. "At the beginning of the trail" can be used to refer to both the first few meters and the first part of a trail, which can be quite substantial, even a fifth or fourth or more.)

The originally rare and traditionally deprecated usage of "in the beginning" together with "of" (instead of "at the beginning of") has become more common but is still ignored by most dictionaries and other authorities or labeled as unidiomatic or incorrect. Interestingly, there is only rarely confusion between the parallel expressions "in the end" and "at the end (of)".

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Translations[edit]

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Verb[edit]

beginning

  1. Present participle of begin.
    • 1918, W. B. Maxwell, chapter 7, The Mirror and the Lamp:
      The turmoil went on—no rest, no peace. […] It was nearly eleven o'clock now, and he strolled out again. In the little fair created by the costers' barrows the evening only seemed beginning; and the naphtha flares made one's eyes ache, the men's voices grated harshly, and the girls' faces saddened one.
    He is beginning to read a new book.


Adjective[edit]

beginning (not comparable)

  1. (informal) Of or relating to the first portion of some extended thing.
    in the beginning paragraph of the chapter
    in the beginning section of the course

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