Word Origin & History
O.E. beginnan "to begin, attempt, undertake," a rare word beside the more usual form onginnan (class III strong verb; past tense ongann, pp. ongunnen); from bi- "be" + W.Gmc. *ginnan, of obscure meaning and found only in compounds, perhaps "to open, open up" (cf. O.H.G. in-ginnan "to cut open, open up,"
also "begin, undertake"). Cognates elsewhere in Germanic include O.H.G. beginnan, M.Du. beghinnen, Ger. beginnen, O.Fris. bijenna, Goth. duginnan.
late 12c., "time when something begins," from begin
. Meaning "act of starting something" is from early 13c. The O.E. word was fruma.