Recently, I've been trying to understand the distinction between "initiate" and "begin." Both words seem to refer to the start of something, but I sense that they are used in different contexts and might convey slightly different meanings.

Could someone explain:

  1. The primary differences in meaning between "initiate" and "begin."
  2. Specific contexts or situations where one word is preferred over the other.
  • I wrote ""Initiate" is considerably more formal than "begin". It is used in the sense of "begin a process", or "cause a process to begin"" but I realised that I was just copying the dictionary. dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/initiate
    – James K
    Commented Jan 15 at 23:18
  • 2
    If in doubt, use begin. It's 10x more common than initiate. books.google.com/ngrams/…
    – Kaia
    Commented Jan 15 at 23:56
  • Here's an image: In traditional marriages around the world, the husband initiated intimacy by beginning the back-and-forth exchange. Commented Jan 16 at 0:01
  • This reminded me of the old, old radio show, Listen With Mother. "Are we ready children? …Then let us initiate." …ermmm…not really ;) Commented Jan 16 at 9:30


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