false start

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false start

1. In a sporting event, a situation in which one player or team begins before the official signal has been given. The team was issued a penalty by the referee after the false start.
2. An unsuccessful attempt to begin something. After several false starts, Gina was finally able to make some progress in writing her term paper.
See also: false, start
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

false start

A wrong beginning, as in After several false starts she finally managed to write the first chapter. The term originated in racing, where it refers to beginning a race before the starting signal has been given. The expression was soon transferred to other kinds of failed beginning. [Early 1800s]
See also: false, start
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

(make) a false ˈstart

an attempt to begin something that is not successful: After a few false starts, I finally managed to work the fax machine.He made a few false starts early on in his acting career, but then found success with the Royal Shakespeare Company.
In sport, a false start is a situation when a competitor in a race starts before the official signal has been given.
See also: false, start
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
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References in periodicals archive ?
The rule then changed where the field were allowed one false start with disqualification the punishment for whoever false-started thereafter.
The IAAF said: "When approved false-start detection equipment is in operation, the evidence of the equipment shall normally be accepted as conclusive by the starter."
Before 2003, disqualification occurred only after the same athlete false-started twice.
Lewis-Francis false-started in his heat, qualified for the final in third place and seemed too hyperactive for the occasion.
Olympic gold medallist Allan Wells has backed the new sprinting false-start rule.
Olympic 100metres champions Maurice Greene and Marion Jones were among dozens of athletes who signed a petition opposing the proposed false-start rule change.
Grand National at Ayr a week on Saturday as the spectacle threatened to descend into farce, 16 years after a false-start caused 'the National that never was'.
Hills offer 16-1 that Bolt false starts again in the 200m and 10-1 to false-start in any event at the London Olympics.
Six riders received four-day bans to rule them out of the Scottish Grand National at Ayr a week on Saturday as the spectacle threatened to descend into farce, 16 years after a false-start caused 'the National that never was'.
Facing suspension following the false-start Prix de l'Abbaye (from left) Jim Crowley, Paul Hanagan, Adrian Nicholls, Kevin Shea, Darryll Holland and Frankie Dettori
What guarantee would there be that O'Regan or any other jockey would always hear a bell at any stage of the race, while holding up a number board would be easily missed, if the Southwell false-start business is any guide.
DWAIN CHAMBERS put himself in pole position for the 100 metres World Championship title - but only after surviving false-start mayhem here last night.
OWNERS Patrick and Hesta Bancroft, who had Esha Ness when he `won' the false-start Grand National of 1993, have another promising young stayer on their hands in Flying Trix, who trotted up under Timmy Murphy in the three-mile novice hurdle.
However, the Welshman was later adjudged to have infringed the new controversial false-start rule, even though he was initially cleared of the offence by meeting officials.
Aintree, of course, is no stranger to such problems, a false-start fiasco in 1993 leading to the `race that never was' being declared void.