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a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step

A daunting task can usually be started by doing a simple thing. I'm feeling really overwhelmed about my research project, but I have to start somewhere, since a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

*an all-out effort

a very good and thorough effort. (*Typically: begin ~; have ~; make ~; start ~.) We need to make an all-out effort to get this job done on time. The government began an all-out effort to reduce the federal budget.
See also: effort

begin by doing something

to start out by doing something first. We will begin by painting the house. She began by opening the door.
See also: begin

begin to see daylight

Fig. to begin to see the end of a long task. I've been working on my thesis for two years, and at last I'm beginning to see daylight. I've been so busy. Only in the last week have I begun to see daylight.
See also: begin, daylight, see

begin to see the light

Fig. to begin to understand something. (See also see the light (at the end of the tunnel).) My algebra class has been hard for me, but I'm beginning to see the light. I was totally confused, but I began to see the light after your explanation.
See also: begin, light, see

begin with someone or something

to start off a sequence with someone or something. Let's have dinner begin with a nice clear soup. I will begin with Liz and take Frank next.
See also: begin

Charity begins at home.

Prov. You should take care of family and people close to you before you worry about helping others. I don't think our church should worry so much about a foreign relief fund when there are people in need right here in our city. Charity begins at home. If you really want to make the world a better place, start by being polite to your sister. Charity begins at home.
See also: begin, charity, home

He that would the daughter win, must with the mother first begin.

Prov. If you want to marry a woman, you should find a way to impress her mother, so that the mother will favor her marrying you. Harry: I think I want to marry Gina. Bill: Don't propose to her until you're sure her mother is on your side. He that would the daughter win, must with the mother first begin.
See also: begin, daughter, first, he, mother, must

He who begins many things, finishes but few.

Prov. If you start a lot of projects, you will not have time and energy to complete them all. (Can be used to warn someone against starting too many projects.) Sarah's room is littered with sweaters and mittens she started to knit but never finished, a testament to the fact that she who begins many things, finishes but few.
See also: begin, but, few, finish, he, many, who

He who would climb the ladder must begin at the bottom.

Prov. If you want to gain high status, you must start with low status and slowly work upwards. Although Thomas hoped to become a famous journalist, he didn't mind working for a small-town newspaper at first. "He who would climb the ladder must begin at the bottom," he said.
See also: begin, bottom, climb, he, ladder, must, who

jumping-off point

 and jumping-off place
a point or place from which to begin something. The local library is a good jumping-off point for your research. The office job in that company would be a good jumping-off place for a career in advertising.
See also: point

Life begins at forty.

Prov. By the time you are forty years old, you have enough experience and skill to do what you want to do with your life. (Often said as an encouragement to those reaching middle age.) Alan: Why are you so depressed? Jane: Tomorrow's my fortieth birthday. Alan: Cheer up! Life begins at forty. For Pete, life began at forty, because by that time he had enough financial security to enjoy himself now and then, rather than having to work all the time.
See also: begin, forty, life

see the light

Fig. to understand something clearly at last. After a lot of studying and asking many questions, I finally saw the light. I know that geometry is difficult. Keep working at it. You'll see the light pretty soon.
See also: light, see

see the light (at the end of the tunnel)

Fig. to foresee an end to one's problems after a long period of time. (See also begin to see the light.) I had been horribly ill for two months before I began to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I began to see the light one day in early spring. At that moment, I knew I'd get well.
See also: light, see

see the light (of day)

Fig. to come to the end of a very busy time. Finally, when the holiday season was over, we could see the light of day. We had been so busy! When business lets up for a while, we'll be able to see the light.
See also: light, see

to begin with

first or most importantly To begin with, I don't have enough money to take a trip to Europe this summer.
Related vocabulary: for openers
See also: begin

see the light

to completely understand something Personal stories help people see the light on complex social issues.
See also: light, see

Charity begins at home.

something that you say which means you should try to help your family and friends before you help other people You ought to stay in and look after your father. Charity begins at home.
See also: begin, charity, home

see the light (of day)

1. if an object sees the light of day, it is brought out so that people can see it The archives contain vintage recordings, some of which have never seen the light of day.
2. if something, especially an idea or a plan, sees the light of day, it starts to exist It was the year when the equal opportunities bill first saw the light of day.
See also: light, see

see the light

1. to understand something clearly, especially after you have been confused about it for a long time Sarah used to have very racist views, but I think she's finally seen the light.
2. to start believing in a religion, often suddenly I hope my book will help others to see the light.
See also: light, see

begin to see daylight

Realize that a task is finally nearing completion, that success or the right solution is near at hand. For example, I've been working on this experiment for two years and I'm finally beginning to see daylight . The noun daylight has been a metaphor for knowledge and solution since the late 1600s. Also see light at the end of the tunnel; see the light.
See also: begin, daylight, see

charity begins at home

Be generous to your family before helping others. For example, She spends hours and hours on volunteer work and neglects the children, forgetting that charity begins at home . This proverb was first recorded in English, in slightly different form, in John Wycliffe's Of Prelates (c. 1380); "Charity should begin at himself."
See also: begin, charity, home

see the light

Also, begin to see the light. Understand or begin to understand something; also, see the merit of another's explanation or decision. For example, Dean had been trying to explain that tax deduction for fifteen minutes when I finally saw the light , or Pat was furious she and her friends were not allowed to go hiking on their own in the mountains, but she began to see the light when a group got lost up there . This term, dating from the late 1600s, originally referred to religious conversion, the light meaning "true religion." By the early 1800s it was used more broadly for any kind of understanding. Also see light at the end of a tunnel; see the light of day.
See also: light, see

to start with

Also, to begin with. In the first place, initially, as in We'll notify him by e-mail to start with, or To begin with, they haven't paid their taxes in years. The first term dates from the second half of the 1800s, the variant from the mid-1500s. Also see for openers.
See also: start

to start with

1. At the beginning; initially.
2. In any case.
See also: start
References in classic literature ?
If I wasn't too old for such things, I'd rather like to play it over again," said Amy, who began to talk of renouncing childish things at the mature age of twelve.
Now chill winds and shortening days began to warn them that the winter was coming again.
But I had to have it; so I went down on my hands and knees, with one slipper on and the other in my hand, and began to paw gently around and rake the floor, but with no success.
And I began to run towards the anchorage, my terrors all forgotten, while close at my side the marooned man in his goatskins trotted easily and lightly.
At that moment my clock began whirring and wheezing and struck seven.
After a few days, men began to grow desperate; their very words as well as their senses seemed to be in chains.
Natasha began consoling her, but her face showed that she understood all the gravity of her friend's trouble.
We began to read Heine together when my vocabulary had to be dug almost word by word out of the dictionary, for the bookbinder's English was rather scanty at the best, and was not literary.
Immediately, and with great caution and quietness, we began climbing up the cliff.
When, in despair, I took my drink, at once my brain loosened up and began to roll off the thousand words.
Upon these words a fire began to heat and kindle between them; insomuch that they began to rate and revile one the other, that the whole multitude therewith disquieted began to be set on a hurry.
1) Tradition puts Homer and the Homeric poems proper back in the ages before chronological history began, and at the same time assigns the purely Cyclic poems to definite authors who are dated from the first Olympiad (776 B.
Alice didn't like being criticised, so she began asking questions.
But the race began not in the ring, but two hundred yards away from it, and in that part of the course was the first obstacle, a dammed-up stream, seven feet in breadth, which the racers could leap or wade through as they preferred.
It is true that for a few years after leaving the cradle he had exhibited a certain immatureness, but as soon as he put on knickerbockers and began to go about a little he outgrew all that.