Is "at outset" grammatically correct to use as in the following

These dormitories were at outset for senior girls

or is "at the outset" better?

  • It doesn't look right, but it's hard to tell because we don't know exactly what you're trying to say. Can you rephrase it in a different way?
    – stangdon
    Commented Apr 20, 2016 at 11:34
  • "At the outset" is correct in itself, but seems an odd choice in that particular sentence. "These dormitories were initially intended for senior girls" sounds a lot better to me.
    – nnnnnn
    Commented May 20, 2016 at 20:30

3 Answers 3


"At the outset" is more modern, so if you want to sound like you are using contemporary English, then "at the outset" would indeed be "better."

outset noun

  1. a. The action or fact of setting out upon a journey, course of action, business, etc.; a start, a beginning. Now chiefly in at the outset, from the outset.

(Oxford English Dictionary [emphases OED's])

There seem to be certain contexts in which at outset is a fixed phrase, such as in


En garde
French for "on guard"; spoken at outset to warn the participants to take a defensive position. (Wikipedia: Glossary of Fencing)

B in scientific papers, such as this one

The formerly proposed percentage of patients that achieve normal weight (or overweight) is clearly unjust to to patients with more severe obesity at outset

I would recommend using at the outset or from the outset rather than at outset unless you have a special reason not to.


I agree that 'outset' needs the article 'the.' However, I would suggest that you might consider 'initially' to replace 'at (the) outset.'

  • 1
    Please edit to include an explanation of why this is correct; answers without explanation do not teach the patterns of the language well. Commented Apr 20, 2016 at 18:03

at the outset is the only grammatically correct way to say it. You can also say from the outset. The only time you would ever see at outset used like that would probably be only as part of a news article headline.


Charges dismissed at outset of hearing

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