I see the usage of 'bad behavior to begin with' in many places but I can't grasp the real meaning of it. I see following in internet.


  • Above all this isn't a place to call out bad behaviour to begin with.
  • I'm doing is explaining bad behaviour to begin with.

Can someone let me know about it? Thanks.


"Bad behavior to begin with" is not a special term. In the context of your sentences there is no special connection between 'bad behavior' and 'begin with' -- the two phrases just happened to be used together.

'Bad behavior' has no importance here. The usage is related to 'begin with.' As a member has rightly explained, 'to begin with' is a common form of speech meaning 'first of all' or 'in the first place.'


1.You are talking to the wrong official, to begin with. And it's a hopeless case anyway. (Meaning: first of all, you are talking to the wrong official. Secondly, it is a hopeless case.)

2.You have brought a complaint against your neighbors; but let's examine your own disciplinary record to begin with. (Let us first consider the complaints against you, is the implied meaning.)

3.The appeal was wrongly framed to begin with; so they didn't even go into the merits of the case. (The appeal was rejected because it was wrongly framed in the first place.)


to begin with is used to introduce first of several things.

When used with bad behaviour, it essentially means to list out bad behaviour at first among several other things.

I have been getting a lot of complaints about him lately. To begin with, it's his bad behaviour in the classroom making it impossible to maintain a quiet decorum.

You can conclude the meaning of your examples using the context.


Above all this isn't a place to call out bad behaviour to begin with.

The meaning of "to begin with" in this usage is "before, or regardless of, any other consideration". People often use "in the first place" as an alternate expression meaning the same thing in this usage. It is basically saying that it is inappropriate to call out bad behavior here, so any finer points of discussion are irrelevant.

I looked for an official citation but the dictionary definitions for this case are pretty bad. The thesaurus lists "in the first place" as a synonym, and that was only marginally better. TheFreeDictionary.com cites The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. They give this similar example: "He could have bought a new one in the first place." The associated definition is From the beginning, at the outset, before anything else.

[What] I'm doing is explaining bad behaviour to begin with.

Without some context, this is a little ambiguous. However, it sounds like "to begin with" here means "as the first step". The meaning of the sentence would be similar to, "First I'll explain what bad behavior is, and then we can talk about it in the context of this situation."

This would be related to the definition as firstly: "There are many reasons why I don't like her – to begin with, she doesn't tell the truth."

"To begin with" in this usage is sometimes not explicitly intending as the first of multiple things, but a related meaning of just establishing a starting point or baseline. The meaning in this sentence would be something like "[What] I'm doing is explaining bad behaviour in general".

An alternate interpretation of the definition would be that this case is also similar to the first. The meaning "at the outset" could be applied to the process of the discussion, itself, rather than to the situation being described in the content of the sentence.

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