Definition of first in English:

first

Syllabification: first
Pronunciation: /fərst
 
/

number

  • 1Coming before all others in time or order; earliest; 1st: his first wife the first of five daughters
    More example sentences
    • The set features songs from their first five albums when they were at the height of their creative powers.
    • Officers were able to use the new order on the first day it was implemented.
    • Aside from switching the order of the first question, this year was no exception.
    Synonyms
  • 1.1Never previously done or occurring: her first day at school
    More example sentences
    • This is claimed to be the first exhibition ever to show how the self-portrait developed.
    • The BBC is set to launch its first ever sports news programme dedicated to children.
    • The display of works on paper is the first ever loan exhibition organised by Kettle's Yard.
  • 1.2Coming next after a specified or implied time or occurrence: I didn’t take the first bus
    More example sentences
    • It is her first solo album in more than 10 years and leaves no room for compromise whatsoever.
    • Acclaimed musician Ben Harper is back with his first studio album in four years.
  • 1.3Met with or encountered before any others: the first house I came to
  • 1.4Originally: many valuable drugs have been recognized first as poisons
  • 1.5Before doing something else specified or implied: do you mind if I take a shower first?
    More example sentences
    • We had to go to Ballina to meet the Bishop first and then back to Bangor again for the marriage.
    • Would you like me to make them now, or would your Lordship prefer to hear from Mr K. first?
    Synonyms
    before anything else, first and foremost, now
  • 1.6For the first time: she first picked up a guitar out of sheer boredom
    More example sentences
    • I can remember when this story first emerged.
    • One set of accounts suggests that the story first surfaced in Germany in the 1930s.
  • 1.7Firstly; in the first place (used to introduce a first point or reason): first, it is wrong that the victims should have no remedy
  • 1.8In preference; rather (used when strongly rejecting a suggestion or possibility): she longed to go abroad, but not at this man’s expense—she’d die first!
    More example sentencesSynonyms
    in preference, sooner, rather
  • 1.9With a specified part or person in a leading position: it plunged nose first into the river
    More example sentences
    • As soon as I said that a dark figure crashed into the window and fell head first on the floor.
    • Down she fell head first onto the floor.
    • He opened the door to be greeted by Diana falling head first to the ground.
  • 1.10 informal The first occurrence of something notable: we traveled by air, a first for both of us
    More example sentences
    • Less well known has been his quiet role as vice chairman of Space Adventures, which includes some notable firsts.
    • Bradford has scored a couple of notable firsts, thanks to the efforts of the Bradford Metropolitan Recreation Department, by launching two projects to keep the citizens of Bradford slim and trim.
    • York City's 4-1 FA Cup triumph over Radcliffe Borough last Sunday marked a number of notable firsts for the Minstermen.
    Synonyms
    novelty, new experience; unknown territory
  • 1.11The first in a sequence of a vehicle’s gears: he stuck the car in first and revved
    More example sentences
    • Pull both together for neutral and with a foot on the brake you select first.
  • 1.12 Baseball First base: he made it all the way home from first
  • 1.13The first grade of a school.
    More example sentences
    • It was in 1988, my first year in the first grade, and the Blacks used to come on a full tour.
    • My parents sent me to sleep away schools since the time I was in first grade.
    • Leah was six and also in first grade, but her gift was in mathematics, and she was at a fifth grade level.
  • 1.14A first edition of a book.
    More example sentences
    • He was finding out what modern first editions are making at auction these days.
    • For the most part, however, the structure of this edition will be familiar to readers of the first.
    • This one only came in late on Monday night and has prompted this short first edition.
  • 2Foremost in position, rank, or importance: the doctor’s first duty is to respect this right career women who put work first football must come first
    More example sentences
    • The quality of life has got to come first above creating ugly urban sprawl.
    • At the end of the day, everybody's got family and they do have to come first.
    • My feeling about this statement has always been that it's a shame, but people come first.
    Synonyms
    foremost, principal, highest, greatest, paramount, top, uppermost, prime, chief, leading, main, major; overriding, predominant, prevailing, central, core, dominant
    informal number-one
    top, best, prime, premier, winner's, winning
  • 2.1 [often with infinitive] The most likely, pressing, or suitable: he is the first to admit he was not the best of patients his first problem is where to live
    More example sentences
    • Inbound tourist operators are the first to admit their jobs are the cream of the crop.
    • I'd be the first to admit that networking has been the key to my success in any job or role I've ever had.
    • Fiona is the first to admit that she is impatient when it comes to her home.
  • 2.2The first finisher or position in a race or competition.
    More example sentences
    • He's also timed it so that he's going out as the first finishers in the race are coming in.
    • The three disciplines are run back-to-back and the winner is the first athlete to finish.
    • It was so refreshing to hear Latka explain how he had raced from 28th to first and won.
  • 2.3 Music Performing the highest or chief of two or more parts for the same instrument or voice: the first violins
    More example sentences
    • I looked up at one point in the middle of the second act, to see something strange going on in the first violins.
    • Gradually a permanent nucleus was formed comprising the essential elements of an Orchestra - firsts and seconds, alto, tenor and bass parts, guitar, bayan, piano and percussion.
  • 2.4 (firsts) Goods of the best quality: factory firsts, seconds, and discontinued styles
  • 2.5British A place in the top grade in an examination, especially that for a degree: he took a first in Classics
  • 2.6British A person having achieved a top grade in an examination.

Phrases

at first

At the beginning; in the initial stage or stages: at first Hugh tried to be patient
More example sentences
  • It can be a bit daunting at first but once they get started and have a go they really enjoy it and learn quickly.
  • He seemed a bit nervous at first but soon settled and gave his usual comic performance.
  • You do have to be a bit of a contortionist at first to engage gear, but it is a sportsbike after all.
Synonyms
at first, to begin with, first of all, at the outset, initially

at first glance

at first hand

at first instance

at first sight

see sight.

(the) first among equals

see equal.

first blood

see blood.

first come, first served

Used to indicate that people will be dealt with in the order in which they arrive or apply: tickets are available on a first come, first served basis
More example sentences
  • Season ticket holders who wish to sit in this stand must first get a free transfer ticket from the ticket office at least two days before the game and it is strictly first come, first served.
  • Postcards can't be reserved or paid for in advance, they are allocated on a strictly first come, first served basis on the sale days only.
  • And how are the lists ordered: on the basis of first come, first served?

first and foremost

Most importantly; more than anything else: I’m first and foremost a writer
More example sentences
  • Since then he has never looked back although he does consider himself to be a Carlow man first and foremost.
  • Like everything else Shaker, things had, first and foremost, to be practical.
  • Cathedrals are, first and foremost, places of worship and are recognised as places of great beauty.

first and last

Fundamentally; on the whole: museums are first and last about curatorship
More example sentences
  • Feminism's a socialist movement, first and last.
  • I am, first and last and always, concerned about the welfare of people, all kinds of people.
  • There is little point in wallowing in the brilliance of Bacon if you don't recognise him as a moralist first and last.

first of all

Before doing anything else; at the beginning: first of all, let me ask you something
More example sentences
  • Her Honour Justice Branson first of all basically agrees with his Honour Justice Wilcox.
  • I should ask first of all if he wishes to say anything in response to those submissions?
  • What was the principal difficulty there about delay, first of all in the Sergeant's case?
Most importantly: German unity depends first of all on the German people
More example sentences
  • The advancement of science depends, first of all, on the free flow of information.
  • And the importance of history is first of all it tells you the way the world was.
  • Really, to keep them in optimum state, it is important that they be maintained first of all.

first off

informal , chiefly North American As a first point; first of all: first off, I owe you a heck of an apology
More example sentences
  • Well, first off, we've got to talk about a couple of different things.
  • They were dying to know what it was going to look like, first off.
  • Well, first off, you went and bought the book which is a first step.

first past the post

(Of a contestant, especially a horse, in a race) winning a race by being the first to reach the finish line.
More example sentences
  • Esha Ness, ridden by John White and trained by Jenny Pitman, was the first past the post but the race was later declared void.
  • Local Claremorris man Finbar Donnellan also had a share in a horse that was first past the post in one of Wednesday's races.
  • Boxed in on the final corner by his rivals, he had to pull out all the stops up Cheltenham's notoriously unforgiving hill to ensure that he was first past the post.
[attributive] British Denoting an electoral system in which a candidate or party is selected by achievement of a simple majority: our first-past-the-post electoral system
More example sentences
  • Secondly, making an electoral breakthrough in a first past the post electoral system remains tough.
  • The first past the post system always unfairly rewards the largest parties, but the results become particularly arbitrary when their share of the vote is relatively small.
  • The first past the post system won't deliver that.

first thing

Early in the morning; before anything else: I have to meet Josh first thing tomorrow
More example sentences
  • They had the chance to do that either on Friday night or first thing in the morning before we were to set out.
  • He gets fed first thing in the morning before I go to work and again when I get home.
  • I know that the first thing in the morning I'll be wandering into work on my day off to find it.

first things first

Used to assert that important matters should be dealt with before other things.
More example sentences
  • Let's deal with first things first, and the thing that's getting the most attention is the headline grabber.
  • We'll talk a lot about the book and your extraordinary story, but let's first deal with first things first.
  • A proper education enables young people to put their lives in order, which means knowing which things are more important than other things; it means putting first things first.

from the (very) first

From the beginning or the early stages: he should have realized it from the first
More example sentences
  • It is true to say that, from the first, the country's attitude to Europe has been ambivalent.
  • No wonder I'd felt connected to Antonio from the very first.
  • Siegfried, his head grader driver, ran one crew while Steve, who'd been with him from the very first, oversaw the other.

from first to last

From beginning to end; throughout: it’s a fine performance that commands attention from first to last
More example sentences
  • By contrast, Thomas Otway's Venice Preserved commands our aesthetic and political attention from first to last.
  • Clyde were totally dominant from first to last in a game Celtic fans must have been begging to end.
  • Playing three groups ahead of the leaders and experiencing the same difficult conditions, Olazabal was quite something, his putting breathtaking from first to last.

get to first base

see base1.

in the first place

As the first consideration or point: political reality was not quite that simple—in the first place, divisions existed within the parties
More example sentences
  • None of the new measures seem to consider addressing the main cause of the problem in the first place.
  • He refers to one recent study which considers the reasons why bloggers blog in the first place.
  • To answer this we must consider whether Doris's acceptance is valid in the first place.
At the beginning; to begin with (especially in reference to the time when an action was being planned or discussed): I should have told you in the first place
More example sentences
  • What makes me feel so really stupid is how I actually managed to begin smoking in the first place.
  • By the way, why do you feel the need to mention the fact that you carry a knife in the first place?
  • Sadly, it also gave me the chance to remember why we had lost touch in the first place.
Synonyms
initially, at first, at the start, at the outset, in/at the beginning, in the first instance, to begin with, to start with, originally

of the first order (or magnitude)

Used to denote something that is excellent or considerable of its kind: it is a media event of the first order
More example sentences
  • However, the overall campaign was a disaster of the first order.
  • It was a disaster of the first order, but Daun was still wary of the ever-aggressive Frederick, with reason.
  • Sarris calls the film ‘a masterpiece of the first order.’
Synonyms
of the utmost importance, of the greatest significance, very important, of great consequence
formal of great moment

of the first water

see water.

Origin

Old Englishfyr(e)st; of Germanic origin, related to Old Norse fyrstr and German Fürst 'prince', from an Indo-European root shared by Sanskrit prathama, Latin primus, and Greek prōtos.

Usage

First, second, third, etc., are adverbs as well as adjectives: first, dice three potatoes; second, add the bouillon . Firstly, secondly, etc., are also correct, but make sure not to mix the two groups: first , second , third ; not first , secondly , thirdly . See also former1 (usage).

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Pronunciation: kərf
noun
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