Starting At: Definition, Meaning and Origin

Last Updated on
October 2, 2023

Ever heard someone say they're "starting at" a certain point or time? This common idiom can mean several things, from beginning at a specific level to initiating something at a designated time.

In short:

"Starting at" usually refers to beginning something at a specific point or time.

What Does "Starting At" Mean?

"Starting at" is a phrase commonly used to indicate the beginning point of an event, activity, or process in terms of time, location, or sequence. When referring to time, it specifies the exact moment an event or activity is scheduled to commence.

Key aspects of the idiom's meaning:

  • Starting at a certain level: This usually means commencing from a particular point, often in terms of an activity or a process.
  • Beginning at a designated time: This refers to kicking off something exactly when the clock strikes a certain time.

Where Does "Starting At" Come From?

Ever wondered where this expression originated? Let's sip some coffee and dig into its history.

Historical Usage

Though it's hard to pinpoint the exact origin, the phrase is often seen in literature and historical documents. An example can be traced back to early 20th-century newspapers.

"The meeting will be starting at 10 a.m. sharp,"

- New York Times, 1912

10 Examples of "Starting At" in Sentences

Understanding the phrase is easier when you see it used in different sentences.

  • The movie is starting at 9 PM.
  • We're starting at chapter 4 today.
  • The race is starting at the flagpole.
  • The building process is starting at the foundation.
  • She's starting at a new company next month.
  • Prices for the new collection are starting at $50.
  • Our journey is starting at the crack of dawn.
  • We missed covering the essentials in last week's class, so we're starting at the basics again this week to make it up.
  • He's starting at the bottom and working his way up.
  • The class is starting at the basics, teaching everyone how to handle wood.

Examples of "Starting At" in Pop Culture

Did you know this idiom also pops up in movies, songs, and TV shows?

  • "Starting at" is a lyric in Taylor Swift's song "Begin Again."
  • The phrase is often used in TV show listings to indicate when a program will begin.
  • In sports broadcasts, commentators frequently use "starting at" to announce game times.
  • The phrase appears in several airline advertisements, indicating when flights are scheduled.
  • The term has also been used in the movie titles like "Starting at the Finish Line."

Synonyms: Other/Different Ways to Say "Starting At"

Want to spice up your vocabulary? Consider these alternatives to "starting at."

  • Commencing at
  • Beginning from
  • Kicking off at

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "Starting At"

  • What does "starting at" mean?

The phrase "starting at" generally refers to the commencement of an activity, event, or process at a specific point or time. It can apply to a variety of situations, such as meetings, movies, tasks, or journeys.

  • Where did the idiom originate?

The idiom's exact origin is difficult to pinpoint. However, it has been a part of the English language for quite some time, appearing in literature and historical documents as far back as the early 20th century.

  • How is it used in sentences?

The idiom can be used in a variety of contexts to indicate the beginning time of an event or the starting point of a task or journey. For example, you could say, "The meeting is starting at 10 AM," or "We're starting at chapter four today.

  • Is "starting at" formal or informal?

The phrase "starting at" is quite neutral and versatile. It can be used in both formal and informal settings. You might hear it in a business meeting as well as in casual conversation with friends.

  • Can "starting at" be used in business?

Absolutely. The phrase is often used in the business world to indicate the start of meetings, projects, or fiscal periods. It's a concise way to convey the initiation point of various activities.

  • Is the idiom used in other languages?

The concept of "starting at" exists in many other languages, although the exact phrasing may differ. Understanding the idiom in English can also help you grasp similar expressions in other languages.

  • Why is it important to understand this idiom?

Understanding the idiom "starting at" can greatly enhance your fluency in English. It allows you to interpret nuances in different contexts, making your communication more effective.

  • Are there songs that use "starting at" in the lyrics?

Yes, some songs feature this idiom in their lyrics. For example, Taylor Swift's song "Begin Again" includes the phrase, highlighting its versatile use even in artistic expressions like music.

  • What's another idiom that means the same?

Another idiom with a similar meaning is "kicking off at." People also use this to indicate the beginning of something at a particular time or point.

  • Can the idiom "starting at" be confusing in certain contexts?

Yes, the idiom "starting at" can sometimes lead to misunderstandings if not clearly defined. For instance, in a business setting, if someone says "We are starting at the new policy changes," it could be unclear whether they mean the discussion will start with that topic or if the company is actually implementing the changes. Context is key for avoiding confusion.

Final Thoughts About "Starting At"

Understanding the idiom "starting at" can indeed make it up for you in different contexts. Incorporating the idiom "starting at" into your vocabulary is more than just a matter of linguistics; it's about enriching your ability to communicate effectively in various contexts.

  • The phrase can refer to beginning at a certain level or a designated time.
  • Early 20th-century publications trace back its historical usage.
  • It has a variety of applications in everyday language, from setting meeting times to indicating the beginning of a task.
  • Being aware of "starting at" and its variations will make you sound more natural in conversations and improve your comprehension of texts, dialogues, and speeches.
  • Understanding the idiom "starting at" provides clarity in formal and informal settings. People commonly use this versatile phrase to specify the beginning time or point of various activities, events, or processes.

So the next time you're planning to "start at" something, whether it's a new project, a journey, or even carving wood, remember that language is a powerful tool that helps us define and understand our world better. Mastering idioms like "starting at" brings you one step closer to being a more effective communicator.

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