head start

noun
an advantage given or acquired in any competition, endeavor, etc., as allowing one or more competitors in a race to start before the others.
Also, headstart.


Origin:
1885–90

Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Collins
World English Dictionary
head start
 
n
an initial advantage in a competitive situation
 
[originally referring to a horse's having its head in front of others at the start of a race]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

head start

An early start that confers an advantage, as in This year we'll get a head start on the competition by running more ads. The expression comes from racing, where it was used for a horse being given an advantage of several lengths over the others. Its extension to other areas dates from the early 1900s.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
Plant a few extra basil plants this summer and get a head start on your holiday
  gift needs.
Less heat would give plants a significant head start to spread their seed.
With such a huge head start, there's little chance they won't get tenure at our
  school.
But the thieves always have a head start--which means that for a while, they'll
  usually get away with it.
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