late 12c., "time when something begins;" c. 1200, "initial stage or first part," verbal noun from begin. Meaning "act of starting something" is from early 13c. The Old English word was fruma (see foremost).
the beginning of the war
`It was a dark and stormy night' is a hackneyed beginning for a story
the Italian beginning of the Renaissance
he was responsible for the beginning of negotiations
the beginning canto of the poem