1. The act of starting; a sudden spring, leap, or motion, caused by surprise, fear, pain, or the like; any sudden motion, or beginning of motion.
"The fright awakened Arcite with a start." -- Dryden.
2. A convulsive motion, twitch, or spasm; a spasmodic effort.
"For she did speak in starts distractedly." -- Shak.
"Nature does nothing by starts and leaps, or in a hurry." -- L'Estrange.
3. A sudden, unexpected movement; a sudden and capricious impulse; a sally; as, starts of fancy.
"To check the starts and sallies of the soul." -- Addison.
4. The beginning, as of a journey or a course of action; first motion from a place; act of setting out; the outset; -- opposed to finish.
"The start of first performance is all." -- Bacon.
"I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips, Straining upon the start." -- Shak.
At a start
at once; in an instant. [Obs.]
"At a start he was betwixt them two." -- Chaucer.
to before another; to gain or have the advantage in a similar undertaking; -- usually with of. "Get the start of the majestic world." Shak. "She might have forsaken him if he had not got the start of her." Dryden.