French word of the week: début

Today’s French word of the week is début. You can click the icon below to hear how it is pronounced:

Début is a masculine noun and, as you might already have guessed, the French gives us the English word debut. In French, the word refers to a beginning or start of something:

au début in the beginning

dès le début right from the beginning / right from the start

le début de la semaine the start of the week

au début du cours at the start of the lesson

Alternatively, début might be translated in English using the adjective early in certain phrases and sentences:

au début du printemps early in the spring

en début de matinée in the early morning

On doit se voir en début d’après-midi. We’re to see each other in the early afternoon.

au début des années 80 in the early ’80s

You’ll notice that the word début is very often followed by de (or alternatively d’, du, de la, de l’, or des), plus another noun. However, de is not always included in certain types of phrases featuring début – for example, when talking about a given month or year:

(au) début août at the start of August / in early August

début 2022 at the start of 2022 / early in 2022

The plural noun débuts is also regularly used in French: like the English equivalent debut, it is used in expressions relating to a person’s beginnings in a particular career or endeavour:

les débuts the early days

faire ses débuts to start out / to make one’s debut

Elle a fait ses débuts de photographe au Times. She started out as a photographer at the Times.

Il a fait ses débuts dans l’armée. He spent his early days in the army.

We hope that you come back next time to learn about our next French word of the week.

Written by Gina Macleod, language content editor.

All opinions expressed on this blog are those of the individual writers, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or policies of Collins, or its parent company, HarperCollins.

Other Articles

French word of the week: servir

This series of weekly blogs takes a closer look at words from our French dictionaries. The word we're focusing on this week is the French verb 'servir'. Read More

French word of the week: cadet

This series of weekly blogs takes a closer look at words from our French dictionaries. The word we're focusing on this week is 'cadet'. Read More

French word of the week: défendre

This series of weekly blogs takes a closer look at words from our French dictionaries. The word we're focusing on this week is the French verb 'défendre'. Read More