Definition of first in English:

first

ordinal number

  • 1Coming before all others in time or order; earliest; 1st.

    ‘his first wife’
    ‘the first of five daughters’
    • ‘Officers were able to use the new order on the first day it was implemented.’
    • ‘As soon as it reopened, a couple of weeks ago, we were the very first customers to order lunch.’
    • ‘She added that people must stand up and take the first step in order to garner support from others.’
    • ‘The comedian has a son and a daughter by his first wife, and three daughters with his second.’
    • ‘The singer had not only helped him release his first album, but had also sung the songs in it.’
    • ‘It was, needless to say, one of the first albums I ripped, and I listen to bits of it at least once a week.’
    • ‘It is hoped to have everything in order for the first performance at the end of November.’
    • ‘No one experienced the ordeal of those first few years more acutely than his first wife, Linda.’
    • ‘It was made the subject of one of the first building preservation orders made by the council.’
    • ‘One of its first orders is to set up special tribunals to try members of the former regime.’
    • ‘That night, he says, he was asleep, at home in bed with his first wife Liz.’
    • ‘The set features songs from their first five albums when they were at the height of their creative powers.’
    • ‘Aside from switching the order of the first question, this year was no exception.’
    • ‘His first wife Mary and his 31 year old son are buried together elsewhere in the cemetery.’
    • ‘The name first appeared in print as long ago as 1703.’
    • ‘Tom was telling me that he expects to have his first album ready for release in the Autumn.’
    • ‘The band took their name from the second track on the first Roxy Music album.’
    • ‘In some cases, it was the first time that even wives got to know what their husbands were up to.’
    • ‘The new vehicle needs to be ordered by the first week in November and with your help they can do it.’
    earliest, initial, opening, introductory, original
    fundamental, basic, rudimentary, primary, beginning, elemental, underlying, basal, foundation
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Never previously done or occurring.
      ‘her first day at school’
      • ‘In one week, the number kept in hospital due to social services delays hit zero for the first time ever.’
      • ‘When they had the London shows, it was the first time they'd ever seen a queue outside the venue.’
      • ‘The BBC is set to launch its first ever sports news programme dedicated to children.’
      • ‘For some of them, it was the first time they had ever come across people from different cultures.’
      • ‘Although I had the valuable excuse when it went wrong that this was the first time I'd ever done it.’
      • ‘Yup, last night, for the first time ever, I was not at home to put my babies to bed.’
      • ‘For the first time ever, local people have been given a forum to express their views.’
      • ‘The display of works on paper is the first ever loan exhibition organised by Kettle's Yard.’
      • ‘Hell, I even did the Su Doku on the back of The Times today for the first time ever.’
      • ‘This will be the first holiday I have ever taken on my own, and I'm quite looking forward to it.’
      • ‘For the first time ever, I was on a train where the driver went the wrong way.’
      • ‘That was the first time she had ever seen me do anything before an audience and she loved it.’
      • ‘I was walking in the mall and for the first time ever, I needed to sit on a bench just to rest.’
      • ‘This is claimed to be the first exhibition ever to show how the self-portrait developed.’
      • ‘Could this be the first coffee morning ever conducted entirely on the internet?’
      • ‘I think this is the first wedding I have ever actually looked forward to going to.’
      • ‘I am now discovering the merits of a leisurely breakfast for the first time ever.’
      • ‘For the first time ever, humanism will be recommended for study by all pupils.’
      • ‘But the post made my husband comment for the first time ever and it was worth it just for that.’
    2. 1.2Coming next after a specified or implied time or occurrence.
      ‘I didn't take the first bus’
      • ‘Acclaimed musician Ben Harper is back with his first studio album in four years.’
      • ‘It is her first solo album in more than 10 years and leaves no room for compromise whatsoever.’
    3. 1.3Met with or encountered before any others.
      ‘the first house I came to’
    4. 1.4Originally.
      ‘many valuable drugs have been recognized first as poisons’
    5. 1.5Before doing something else specified or implied.
      ‘do you mind if I take a shower first?’
      • ‘Would you like me to make them now, or would your Lordship prefer to hear from Mr K. first?’
      • ‘We had to go to Ballina to meet the Bishop first and then back to Bangor again for the marriage.’
    6. 1.6For the first time.
      ‘she first picked up a guitar out of sheer boredom’
      • ‘I can remember when this story first emerged.’
      • ‘One set of accounts suggests that the story first surfaced in Germany in the 1930s.’
    7. 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’
    8. 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!’
    9. 1.9With a specified part or person in a leading position.
      ‘it plunged nose first into the river’
      • ‘He was swept off his feet, and landed face first into the dirt.’
      • ‘He opened the door to be greeted by Diana falling head first to the ground.’
      • ‘As soon as I said that a dark figure crashed into the window and fell head first on the floor.’
      • ‘She stumbled and tripped, and landed face first on the ground.’
      • ‘Down she fell head first onto the floor.’
      • ‘She got about four steps away when she tripped over her leg rope and fell face first into a puddle.’
    10. 1.10informal The first occurrence of something notable.
      ‘we traveled by air, a first for both of us’
      • ‘On the way over to Hawaii, we experienced so many firsts that we lost count.’
      • ‘Last Monday's Hall of Game was a night of firsts for the Texans, with one notable exception: they failed to pick up their first win.’
      • ‘Miss Hall, of Allsprings Drive, Great Harwood, has also achieved several other notable firsts, including becoming the first female member of Accrington Rotary Club.’
      • ‘Early on, Canadian fighter pilots logged a number of firsts in air combat.’
      • ‘Jeff was the man that had experienced all her firsts with her.’
      • ‘But for me personally it was an experience of many firsts, beyond nature.’
      • ‘Less well known has been his quiet role as vice chairman of Space Adventures, which includes some notable firsts.’
      • ‘A few other firsts that occurred that night; Hogan lost cleanly for the first time in about eight years.’
      • ‘York City's 4-1 FA Cup triumph over Radcliffe Borough last Sunday marked a number of notable firsts for the Minstermen.’
      • ‘Space missions have always been big TV moments, be they historic firsts, like the moon landing in 1969…’
      • ‘Zacharias Kunuk has been experiencing a lot of firsts lately.’
      • ‘When I was with him, I experienced a lot of firsts actually.’
      • ‘A hallmark in the history of film-making, the movie had more than one firsts to its credits, what with Lucas dividing his story into three trilogies and deciding to make the second one first as he found it more interesting.’
      • ‘This will be many firsts - our first trip with our son, Zack's first flight, his first time seeing mountains, and the longest period of time he has been away from home and hearth.’
      • ‘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.’
    11. 1.11The first in a sequence of a vehicle's gears.
      ‘he stuck the car in first and revved’
      • ‘Pull both together for neutral and with a foot on the brake you select first.’
    12. 1.12Baseball
      First base.
      ‘he made it all the way home from first’
    13. 1.13The first grade of a school.
      • ‘Leah was six and also in first grade, but her gift was in mathematics, and she was at a fifth grade level.’
      • ‘Sumire sighed, used to the routine she had undergone all during first through eighth grade.’
      • ‘My parents sent me to sleep away schools since the time I was in first grade.’
      • ‘Paul and Karen have been friends since first grade, but never made it to second base.’
      • ‘It was in 1988, my first year in the first grade, and the Blacks used to come on a full tour.’
    14. 1.14A first edition of a book.
      ‘collectors of modern firsts’
      • ‘For the most part, however, the structure of this edition will be familiar to readers of the first.’
      • ‘The aims and compass of this edition have not changed from those of the first.’
  • 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’
    • ‘The urge for immortality, too, has often been of the first importance to writers.’
    • ‘If anything is to be learned from the whole sorry affair, it is that the child must come first.’
    • ‘At the end of the day, everybody's got family and they do have to come first.’
    • ‘I must have said that the players come first and looking after them is the most important thing.’
    • ‘I am a driver myself and I know how difficult it is to park in these streets but surely lives must come first.’
    • ‘A surprise visit from inspectors helps a CEO see the importance of putting safety first.’
    • ‘The judge pointed to prosecution evidence that showed he put safety first.’
    • ‘My law states that I come first, everybody else has to have second place in my life.’
    • ‘They share the opinion that the customer should come first rather than political egos.’
    • ‘The Parole Board's first duty is to ensure any prisoner it releases is not a risk to the public.’
    • ‘A really good king would have been one who accepted that the interests of the great should come first.’
    • ‘My feeling about this statement has always been that it's a shame, but people come first.’
    • ‘Above all, people must feel safe, and that means economic policy must not come first.’
    • ‘Paxton and Lineen have never lost sight of the fact that sport is fun, and that players come first.’
    • ‘The quality of life has got to come first above creating ugly urban sprawl.’
    • ‘And the very first duty of government is to uphold the law and to make the citizens secure.’
    • ‘There is no life story without fiction, but the story, your life, should come first.’
    • ‘It should be a rigorously independent watchdog whose first duty is to the public interest.’
    • ‘The male lover's career is a conceit that according to the author often has to come first.’
    • ‘Her reaction left no question in my mind that the grass ought to come first.’
    top, best, prime, premier, superlative
    foremost, principal, highest, greatest, paramount, top, topmost, utmost, uppermost, prime, chief, leading, main, major
    View synonyms
    1. 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’
      • ‘Fiona is the first to admit that she is impatient when it comes to her home.’
      • ‘He is the first to admit he is not as hungry for success as he was when he was younger.’
      • ‘Inbound tourist operators are the first to admit their jobs are the cream of the crop.’
      • ‘He is the first to admit, however, that this is more an act of God rather than a life plan.’
      • ‘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.’
    2. 2.2The first finisher or position in a race or competition.
      • ‘Then there's Tom Wilkens, ranked first in the world in '98 in the 200.’
      • ‘He's also timed it so that he's going out as the first finishers in the race are coming in.’
      • ‘In fleet racing, the dominant type at the Olympics, the first to cross the line wins the race.’
      • ‘It was so refreshing to hear Latka explain how he had raced from 28th to first and won.’
      • ‘Schoeman ranked first in the world last year in the 50 meter long course.’
      • ‘The three disciplines are run back-to-back and the winner is the first athlete to finish.’
    3. 2.3Music
      Performing the highest or chief of two or more parts for the same instrument or voice.
      ‘the first violins’
      • ‘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.’
    4. 2.4Goods of the best quality.
      ‘factory firsts, seconds, and discontinued styles’
    5. 2.5British A place in the top grade in an examination, especially that for a degree.
      ‘he took a first in Classics’
    6. 2.6British A person having achieved a top grade in an examination.

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 former

Phrases

  • at first

    • At the beginning; in the initial stage or stages.

      ‘at first Hugh tried to be patient’
      • ‘We were a bit dubious about doing the programme at first, but we really enjoyed making it.’
      • ‘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 was fine at first then complained about not feeling well and went back to bed.’
      • ‘You do have to be a bit of a contortionist at first to engage gear, but it is a sportsbike after all.’
      • ‘It was difficult to get funding at first but now there is a consortium of people who have put money into it.’
      • ‘He seemed a bit nervous at first but soon settled and gave his usual comic performance.’
      • ‘She's the daughter of an opera singer, and at first she didn't want to go into opera.’
      • ‘The guy was reluctant at first and refused to come with me, but I could tell he needed my help.’
      • ‘He was struck by the car as he walked home from a wedding, and at first it was feared he might not survive.’
      • ‘The driver had not wanted to take him at first because he was so drunk he had to be supported by three women.’
      at first, to begin with, at the beginning, at the start, first of all, at the outset, initially
      View synonyms
  • at first glance

    • When seen or considered for the first time, especially briefly.

      ‘good news, at first glance, for frequent travelers’
      • ‘This seems to offer little guidance at first glance, however some common ground is starting to emerge.’
      • ‘But it is not the huge caricature the townies would take it for at first glance.’
      • ‘What may seem odd and unstructured at first glance, he insists, will soon seem fun and spontaneous.’
      • ‘A grotesque formation vase catches the attention of guests at first glance.’
      • ‘Some hotels, for example, can, at first glance, still seem locked in the 1950s.’
      • ‘As would be expected, however, there is much more going on within the picture than is apparent at first glance.’
      • ‘Maybe he was older than he looked at first glance in the dark, and possibly drunk?’
      • ‘This difference, which seems subtle at first glance, is actually quite dramatic.’
      • ‘Her clever collage and striking photographs are, at first glance, simple and beautiful.’
      • ‘It looked very tough at first glance but when I worked out what they were looking for, I settled down.’
      on the face of it, on the surface, at first sight, to the casual eye, to all appearances, to go by appearances, to judge by appearances
      apparently, seemingly, outwardly, superficially, as far as one can see, as far as one can tell, by all accounts, so it seems, to all intents and purposes
      View synonyms
  • at first hand

    • Directly or from personal experience.

      ‘scientists observed the process at first hand’
      • ‘I can recount endless examples that I have experienced at first hand.’
      • ‘It is felt that the Mobile Farm is the answer as it allows children to experience farm animals at first hand.’
      • ‘They are the ones, after all, with most experience of nature at first hand, and their views deserve to be listened to.’
      • ‘Four Laois men will hope to see at first hand what people in Ethiopia experience in their daily struggle to survive.’
      • ‘He had experienced this at first hand, from his own brother.’
      directly, immediately, personally, at first hand, from the original source, with one's own ears, with one's own eyes
      View synonyms
  • at first instance

    • At the first court hearing concerning a case.

      • ‘His application for judicial review was dismissed at first instance on 11 April 2001.’
      • ‘Although both the judge at first instance and the Court of Appeal held that the agreement was void, the House of Lords held the contract to be valid and binding.’
      • ‘At first instance, the jury returned a verdict in favour of the defendant.’
      • ‘That court unanimously dismissed an appeal against a judgment entered by Justice Carr at first instance in that court.’
      • ‘The Federal Court of Australia at first instance and then on appeal denied judicial review.’
  • at first sight

    • 1On first seeing or meeting someone.

      ‘it was love at first sight’
      • ‘When they finally meet it's love at first sight, and neither they nor the reader can quite believe how sudden and idyllic it all is.’
      • ‘But it was love at first sight and I really am not interested in being with anyone else.’
      • ‘But Cora confesses that it was love at first sight, when the couple met by chance as teenagers, nine years ago.’
      • ‘It was love at first sight - a cosy, comfortable intoxication.’
      • ‘There is a possibility of love at first sight and even a hasty marriage.’
      • ‘After years of loneliness following their spouses' deaths, they met at a senior citizens centre and fell in love at first sight.’
      • ‘It was love at first sight and on our first date he gave me a Fabergé bracelet.’
      • ‘Cupid's arrow stuck at a party five months ago and it was love at first sight.’
      • ‘Although our encounter was brief, it was love at first sight, and before long Travis moved to Seattle to be with me.’
      • ‘I guess this proves I don't believe in love at first sight.’
      1. 1.1After an initial impression (which is then found to be different from what is actually the case)
        ‘the debate is more complex than it seems at first sight’
        • ‘The application is not as simple as might appear at first sight and Mr Wright may wish to read the application at Shipley Town Hall before attending.’
        • ‘Some animal behaviour seems very strange at first sight.’
        • ‘Although mid-ocean ridges appear at first sight to be continuous features within the oceans, on closer inspection this is clearly not so.’
        • ‘It was an impressive list, though, at first sight, many of the themes and promises had a familiar feel.’
        • ‘The experience was an intense thrill, because the nature of the object was apparent at first sight.’
        • ‘It is a curious show which, while at first sight might appear to be an uncomfortable mix of high art and popular culture, in effect works surprisingly well.’
        • ‘Repression seemed to work in the eighties, at least at first sight.’
        • ‘This was another case of ordinary life being more interesting than it looked at first sight.’
        • ‘While an airline boss may appear an odd choice at first sight, he does have plenty of banking experience.’
        • ‘What looks at first sight to be a straightforward recorded song recital turns out to be far more intricately and thoughtfully put together.’
        externally, on the outside, on the surface, superficially, on the face of it, at first glance, at first sight, from all appearances, to all appearances, to the casual eye, to the casual observer, as far as one can judge, as far as one can see, as far as one can tell, to all intents and purposes, apparently, ostensibly, seemingly, evidently
        View synonyms
  • (the) first among equals

    • The person or thing having the highest status in a group.

      • ‘He will be the first among equals, but they will all have to prove themselves.’
      • ‘At their best, they are the best, first among equals.’
      • ‘The whole tenet on which Hauser bases his fascinating book is that the human species is, as it were, first among equals.’
      • ‘Although America might be first among equals, its conscious and unconscious existence is tightly coupled to experiences shared with its global neighbors.’
      • ‘They also recognize the Pope as the principal hierarch, the first among equals.’
      • ‘In the past, the Pope of Alexandria was merely the first among equals, and reform movements had foundered on the autonomy of Egypt's bishops.’
      • ‘This should be troubling, this complete lack of clear ideas from the man who will be our first among equals.’
      • ‘The official doctrine is that the prime minister is simply the first among equals, and the rule of collective responsibility emphasizes the collegial character of the cabinet.’
      • ‘As the first among equals, the Prime Minister will symbolically have his finger on the nuclear button.’
      • ‘Sorry Campbell, you may be the first among equals, but you ain't the boss.’
  • first blood

    • 1The first shedding of blood, especially in a boxing match or formerly in dueling with swords.

      • ‘Marcus's eyes lit up with surprise, I am guessing this was the first time in a duel that he did not get first blood.’
      • ‘Jimmy had shed his first blood that night, and had also acquired a nice gash across his nose to commemorate it by.’
      • ‘Ok normal rules apply; fight stops at the call of mercy or the first blood drawn.’
      • ‘After the first blood was shed at Edgehill, however, in October 1642, people quickly lost their appetite for further conflict.’
      • ‘But the metal would not stay clean for very long, as both swords seemed to ache for first blood.’
      • ‘Without giving them a chance, Adam reached for his sword and drew it for the first time, achieving first blood.’
      • ‘You may well have drawn first blood on my brother, but you'll not be doing that to me!’
      • ‘The third struck Rift across the forehead - not deep enough of a cut to do any main damage but the point was that Raymond had drawn first blood.’
      • ‘The other's sword slid between Nottingham's ribs, drawing first blood and causing burning agony.’
      • ‘The object was first blood, not death or dismemberment.’
    • 2The first point or advantage gained in a contest.

      ‘King drew first blood when he took the opening set’
      • ‘Yet as both defences struggled to contain their respective opponents, the Germans drew first blood thanks to a magnificent 50-yard field goal which was well worth four points.’
      • ‘Yet in the 28th minute, it was they who drew first blood.’
      • ‘Gala looking the more composed in the opening skirmishes and drew first blood with a penalty goal for an offside offence.’
      • ‘A protest group drew first blood in the fight to win people's opinions when an energy company showed its onshore wind farm proposals for the local area.’
      • ‘Still, experience and age matter in the tricky business of grass-court tennis and, sure enough, he drew first blood by breaking his opponent to take a 3-1 lead.’
      • ‘The Wesmen drew first blood by opening up the scoring.’
      • ‘Cork almost drew first blood after eight minutes.’
      • ‘Starting the livelier, it came as no surprise when the Hamlet drew first blood after just nine minutes with a well-worked goal of the highest order.’
      • ‘The visitors drew first blood after just four minutes when their stand-off slotted a penalty.’
      • ‘Hawks began looking bright and drew first blood with a penalty in six minutes.’
  • 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’
      • ‘All are first come, first served; arrive early on weekends.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The Playgroup re-opens on Monday the 5th of September at 9.30 a.m. and places are available on a first come, first served, basis.’
      • ‘Seating for the these concerts will be limited and admission is by ticket only on the door at £5.00, first come, first served.’
      • ‘Due to the high level of interest in the course, applications will be dealt with on a first come, first served basis.’
      • ‘And how are the lists ordered: on the basis of first come, first served?’
      • ‘Why can't they just leave the tickets with the professionals and let it be a case of first come, first served, the same as any other major event in the country.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The open auditions will be run on a first come, first served basis with entrants arriving at the venue by 9.00 am.’
      • ‘It's first come, first served, so please act quickly!’
  • first and foremost

    • Most importantly; more than anything else.

      ‘I'm first and foremost a writer’
      • ‘While she was a singer first and foremost, Tucker is loathe to choose between her two loves.’
      • ‘I am not a great charity giver, I, like most people, need to protect my family first and foremost.’
      • ‘Any preconceptions of worthiness are soon put to rest: first and foremost, this is a road movie.’
      • ‘It was, first and foremost, an exercise in politics rather than sound economic management.’
      • ‘Since then he has never looked back although he does consider himself to be a Carlow man first and foremost.’
      • ‘Cathedrals are, first and foremost, places of worship and are recognised as places of great beauty.’
      • ‘Cinema is, first and foremost, the projection of a cultural identity which comes to life on the screen.’
      • ‘We are police officers first and foremost, and that is our responsibility.’
      • ‘It was an act, first and foremost, of solidarity with the victims and of empathy with their families.’
      • ‘Like everything else Shaker, things had, first and foremost, to be practical.’
  • first and last

    • Fundamentally; on the whole.

      ‘museums are first and last about curatorship’
      • ‘Feminism's a socialist movement, first and last.’
      • ‘There is little point in wallowing in the brilliance of Bacon if you don't recognise him as a moralist first and last.’
      • ‘Rosa Luxemburg roundly declared that freedom was first and last the freedom for those who thought differently.’
      • ‘I am, first and last and always, concerned about the welfare of people, all kinds of people.’
  • first of all

    • 1Before doing anything else; at the beginning.

      ‘first of all, let me ask you something’
      • ‘What was the principal difficulty there about delay, first of all in the Sergeant's case?’
      • ‘I should ask first of all if he wishes to say anything in response to those submissions?’
      • ‘Tell us, first of all, about this one picture of this safe that was knocked over.’
      • ‘To understand this let us first of all look at the principles of Sun and Neptune separately.’
      • ‘Her Honour Justice Branson first of all basically agrees with his Honour Justice Wilcox.’
      • ‘We'll get to why he's in a wheelchair in a second, but, first of all, how big is this?’
      • ‘This learning would, first of all, be a listening to God's voice in contemplative silence.’
      • ‘Right, first of all do not ask me anything about teenage pregnancy and having trouble in sexual situations.’
      • ‘Well, first of all the cabin is extremely well trimmed, especially if you go for pale grey leather seats and a black carpet.’
      • ‘Can I just say, first of all, in all honesty, how much I respect what you've done in Lapland in previous years.’
      1. 1.1Most importantly.
        ‘German unity depends first of all on the German people’
        • ‘And the importance of history is first of all it tells you the way the world was.’
        • ‘With gaming, young people can get involved and, first of all, it's a culture where you can belong.’
        • ‘Well, first of all, I never would have allowed it to get out of control the way it did.’
        • ‘Well, first of all there are nine states that are already doing that in the United States.’
        • ‘Really, to keep them in optimum state, it is important that they be maintained first of all.’
        • ‘The advancement of science depends, first of all, on the free flow of information.’
        • ‘I did not believe that a man my age, first of all, could fall in love like a teenager.’
        • ‘Well, I think, first of all, that the fact he lied about his affair is going to hurt him.’
        • ‘My main goal in life, first of all, is to live every day to the fullest, no matter how long that is.’
        • ‘All I really wanted to really talk about was first of all what a relief it is to hear James talking.’
  • first off

    • informal As a first point; first of all.

      ‘first off, I owe you a heck of an apology’
      • ‘Well, first off, we've got to talk about a couple of different things.’
      • ‘Well, first off, you went and bought the book which is a first step.’
      • ‘Give us a sense, first off, where these arms are primarily coming from.’
      • ‘Well, first off I would not recommend an over-the - counter eye drop as the preferred product.’
      • ‘They were dying to know what it was going to look like, first off.’
      • ‘Now, first off, just what makes these outlandish themes reflect reality?’
      • ‘Well, first off I'm going to suggest something rather radical: people need to take responsibility for their own sexual health.’
      • ‘Well, first off, I think the prevailing theme here is it could have been a lot worse.’
      • ‘I think first off, somebody of the things that they're planning should be kept secret and private.’
      • ‘Well, first off there are some pretty sophisticated statistical tricks you can do with the data to make it more reliable.’
  • first past the post

    • 1(of a contestant, especially a horse, in a race) winning a race by being the first to reach the finish line.

      • ‘Local Claremorris man Finbar Donnellan also had a share in a horse that was first past the post in one of Wednesday's races.’
      • ‘After two very promising performances it should be only a matter of time before Maryann The Dancer is first past the post.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘F1 Racing were first past the post in their game at Bay Horse Tadcaster.’
      • ‘Tales abound of this man who walked 10 miles in his bare feet for cystic fibrosis in 1975 and was first past the post.’
      • ‘If he is first past the post then the victory will put a very serious dent in the profits on bookmakers operating in Ireland.’
      • ‘Esha Ness, ridden by John White and trained by Jenny Pitman, was the first past the post but the race was later declared void.’
      • ‘Think Big won the big race twice and Let's Elope and Saintly were amongst two of his other special charges who were first past the post.’
      • ‘It was not always the favourites that came first past the post, which all added to the excitement.’
      • ‘Kieran was first past the post in the 1500 metres on the Saturday, turning in an excellent time of 5.58.’
      1. 1.1British [attributive]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’
        • ‘Its genuinely difficult to figure out the Indian voter, and more importantly the first past the post system can make a few percentage difference in vote share seem like a land slide.’
        • ‘The first past the post system won't deliver that.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘We proved under the first past the post system in Preston that we can win.’
        • ‘We totally accept that no first past the post system is infallible.’
        • ‘These are, of course, first past the post elections, and therefore difficult for us to make a mark on.’
        • ‘But - and it's a very big ‘but’ - under first past the post, the power of government goes to the party of the plurality, to the largest minority.’
        • ‘Britain uses the first past the post formula and the candidate receiving the most votes is elected, regardless of whether or not he has a majority of votes cast.’
        • ‘It returns Italy, after 12 years of flirtation with first past the post, to a proportional system.’
  • first thing

    • Early in the morning; before anything else.

      ‘I have to meet Josh first thing tomorrow’
      • ‘They had the chance to do that either on Friday night or first thing in the morning before we were to set out.’
      • ‘Revise when you want to revise, be it first thing in the morning or late at night.’
      • ‘I work from home running a small business and need my post first thing in the morning.’
      • ‘I know that the first thing in the morning I'll be wandering into work on my day off to find it.’
      • ‘We have street cleansing teams out from first thing in the morning until late at night.’
      • ‘Harry goes for his annual jabs first thing in the morning and I shall need all my wits about me.’
      • ‘His father had left lists of producers and agents that he would call first thing in the morning.’
      • ‘He gets fed first thing in the morning before I go to work and again when I get home.’
      • ‘I needed a drink first thing in the morning and a bag of heroin in the afternoon.’
      • ‘They stay the night, go to the bank with the boss first thing in the morning and help themselves.’
  • first things first

    • Used to assert that important matters should be dealt with before other things.

      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘We'll talk a lot about the book in a little while, but first let's get to first things first, and that's the major story of the day, Andy, and what do you make of the inspectors?’
      • ‘So there is a lot to be done, but first things first.’
      • ‘But first things first - he knows he'd better make good on his campaign promise and fix that village road.’
      • ‘But first things first and that means a result in Bray on Friday.’
      • ‘But first things first, you have to have other goals first, just getting in there and getting game time is the first step.’
      • ‘I believe that this is putting the horse before the cart, practicing first things first and the value-added benefit to this approach will spell returns in the short run too.’
      • ‘So, first things first, I really liked Star Wars.’
  • from the (very) first

    • From the beginning or the early stages.

      ‘he should have realized it from the first’
      • ‘No wonder I'd felt connected to Antonio from the very first.’
      • ‘It is true to say that, from the first, the country's attitude to Europe has been ambivalent.’
      • ‘They were encouraged from the first to be scrupulous in their use of various powers.’
      • ‘When we notice the geese afresh we realize, as Ma Tsu says, they've been there from the very first.’
      • ‘He had been an easy delivery and Erin loved her little boy from the very first.’
      • ‘The central problems of the Empire, present from the very first, were revealed plainly in the crisis.’
      • ‘She was headstrong and determined to have her way from the very first.’
      • ‘It was a genius that Bolzano saw from the very first.’
      • ‘I know that that is what God had intended 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.’
      the beginning, the very beginning, the start, the outset, the commencement
      View synonyms
  • from first to last

    • From beginning to end; throughout.

      ‘it's a fine performance that commands attention from first to last’
      • ‘It was into the second half before the important second goal arrived, but Hibs were dominant from first to last.’
      • ‘They weren't always enthusiastic supporters; they were skeptical from first to last.’
      • ‘Clyde were totally dominant from first to last in a game Celtic fans must have been begging to end.’
      • ‘Her whole speech was a success from first to last, an appropriate effort.’
      • ‘As regards the plaintiff, he has been wrong from first to last.’
      • ‘Mr Donne said: ‘A very clear thread runs through this case, the thread of the aggression of these three men from first to last.’’
      • ‘By contrast, Thomas Otway's Venice Preserved commands our aesthetic and political attention from first to last.’
      • ‘Playing three groups ahead of the leaders and experiencing the same difficult conditions, Olazabal was quite something, his putting breathtaking from first to last.’
      • ‘There's been unbroken sunshine from first to last, with barely a token cloud in the sky.’
      • ‘On paper, Aberdeen seemed inadequately equipped to slug it out with O'Neill's team, but their commitment was ferocious from first to last.’
  • in the first place

    • 1As the first consideration or point.

      ‘political reality was not quite that simple—in the first place, divisions existed within the parties’
      • ‘This is, in fact, one of the principle reasons the Top Table was created in the first place.’
      • ‘It wasn't as if the Mini was an especially greedy consumer of petrol in the first place.’
      • ‘That was one of the primary issues that prompted the application in the first place.’
      • ‘He's right, but he's got a nerve considering his party broke that link in the first place.’
      • ‘To answer this we must consider whether Doris's acceptance is valid in the first place.’
      • ‘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.’
      in addition to, as well as, over and above
      View synonyms
      1. 1.1At 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’
        • ‘By the way, why do you feel the need to mention the fact that you carry a knife in the first place?’
        • ‘Having made an issue of the attacks in the first place, they now say that this is nothing for us to worry about.’
        • ‘The hard thing, as I'm finding out, is getting the people in there in the first place.’
        • ‘He is so loving and kind that I immediately remember why I fell in love with him in the first place.’
        • ‘It is always important to remind ourselves who created this state of affairs in the first place.’
        • ‘If he didn't think Scott was good enough, why did he pick him in the first place?’
        • ‘What makes me feel so really stupid is how I actually managed to begin smoking in the first place.’
        • ‘If you believe you have been misled complain to the company or person who sold you the plan in the first place.’
        • ‘Sadly, it also gave me the chance to remember why we had lost touch in the first place.’
        • ‘When it was all over, I re-read the play to try and see what it was that had made me write it in the first place.’
  • 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’
      • ‘His achievement, though easily taken for granted, was the work of an analytical mind of the first order, and he deserves much more honor than he has so far received.’
      • ‘However, the overall campaign was a disaster of the first order.’
      • ‘Is this wickedness of the first order or rational economic behaviour?’
      • ‘Then there's Bernov's trademark balalaika-bass, a four-stringed oddity of the first order, pictured above for your amusement.’
      • ‘Sarris calls the film ‘a masterpiece of the first order.’’
      • ‘It was a disaster of the first order, but Daun was still wary of the ever-aggressive Frederick, with reason.’
      • ‘But to say that it's all going to come out fine, that always struck me as being wishful thinking of the first order.’
      • ‘Warming up, he says: ‘The transatlantic relationship remains an asset of the first order.’’
      • ‘We have been waiting for this recording for years and now that it is here, one can safely say that it is indeed a masterpiece of the first order.’
      • ‘While I am a technology fanatic of the first order, I see the future of high-wage nations largely as services-driven.’
      of the utmost importance, of the greatest significance, very important, of importance, of significance, of note, of great moment, of great consequence
      View synonyms
  • of the first water

    • 1(of a diamond or pearl) of the greatest brilliance and transparency.

      1. 1.1(typically of someone or something perceived as undesirable or annoying) extreme or unsurpassed of their kind.
        ‘she was a bore of the first water’
        • ‘Most of the chat is innocuous and scene-specific, but if after watching this movie you really expected the guys who made it to provide cogent insights into the cinematic process, you're a cockeyed optimist of the first water.’
        • ‘A lot of this is obviously down to the fact that these guys are players of the first water.’
        • ‘This was comedy acting of the first water and the like of which is seldom seen nowadays.’
        • ‘With scholarly depth and intellectual charity that refuse to impose spurious commonalities, this is ecumenical conversation of the first water.’
        • ‘I will just say, however, that anyone who gets a tattoo from another culture with that much resonance in that culture without every having met someone from that culture is a schmuck of the first water.’
        • ‘According to her description the losing candidate was a ‘lush,’ a falling down soaking drunk of the first water.’
        • ‘This is a magickal artifact of the first water, so well known that it was credited as the device through which Dee divined the Gunpowder Plot of 1605.’
        • ‘He was wearing a baseball cap backwards, which marked him as what Syd called 'a jerk of the first water.'’
        • ‘Babbage was a polymath of the first water - he invented an opthalmoscope, worked on codes, picked locks, suggested the Penny Post, he invented a periscope and a submarine diving bell.’
        • ‘He was a complete jackass of the first water.’

Origin

Old English fyr(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.

Pronunciation:

first

/fərst/