false start

noun
1.
Sports. a premature start by one or more of the contestants, as in a swimming or track event, necessitating calling the field back to start again.
2.
a failure to begin an undertaking successfully.

Origin:
1805–15

Dictionary.com Unabridged

false-start

[fawls-stahrt]
verb (used without object) Sports.
to leave the starting line or position too early and thereby necessitate repeating the signal to begin a race.

Origin:
1805–15

Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

false start

A wrong beginning, as in After several false starts she finally managed to write the first chapter. The term originated in racing, where it refers to beginning a race before the starting signal has been given. The expression was soon transferred to other kinds of failed beginning. [Early 1800s]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
Cite This Source
Example sentences
He had made another total misconception of life,-another inconceivable false
  start.
There was then a period of silence, followed by a false start.
The sumps are designed to collect diesel fuel from an electric power generation
  turbine immediately after a false start.
The court's consideration of the settlement agreement and counsel's fees,
  however, was subject to a false start.
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