Definition of first in US English:

first

ordinal number

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

    ‘his first wife’
    ‘the first of five daughters’
    • ‘The name first appeared in print as long ago as 1703.’
    • ‘The set features songs from their first five albums when they were at the height of their creative powers.’
    • ‘The comedian has a son and a daughter by his first wife, and three daughters with his second.’
    • ‘Tom was telling me that he expects to have his first album ready for release in the Autumn.’
    • ‘In some cases, it was the first time that even wives got to know what their husbands were up to.’
    • ‘It is hoped to have everything in order for the first performance at the end of November.’
    • ‘His first wife Mary and his 31 year old son are buried together elsewhere in the cemetery.’
    • ‘She added that people must stand up and take the first step in order to garner support from others.’
    • ‘It was, needless to say, one of the first albums I ripped, and I listen to bits of it at least once a week.’
    • ‘Aside from switching the order of the first question, this year was no exception.’
    • ‘Officers were able to use the new order on the first day it was implemented.’
    • ‘One of its first orders is to set up special tribunals to try members of the former regime.’
    • ‘The band took their name from the second track on the first Roxy Music album.’
    • ‘It was made the subject of one of the first building preservation orders made by the council.’
    • ‘No one experienced the ordeal of those first few years more acutely than his first wife, Linda.’
    • ‘The singer had not only helped him release his first album, but had also sung the songs in it.’
    • ‘As soon as it reopened, a couple of weeks ago, we were the very first customers to order lunch.’
    • ‘The new vehicle needs to be ordered by the first week in November and with your help they can do it.’
    • ‘That night, he says, he was asleep, at home in bed with his first wife Liz.’
    earliest, initial, opening, introductory, original
    fundamental, basic, rudimentary, primary, beginning, elemental, underlying, basal, foundation
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Never previously done or occurring.
      ‘her first day at school’
      • ‘This is claimed to be the first exhibition ever to show how the self-portrait developed.’
      • ‘The display of works on paper is the first ever loan exhibition organised by Kettle's Yard.’
      • ‘The BBC is set to launch its first ever sports news programme dedicated to children.’
      • ‘For the first time ever, I was on a train where the driver went the wrong way.’
      • ‘I think this is the first wedding I have ever actually looked forward to going to.’
      • ‘When they had the London shows, it was the first time they'd ever seen a queue outside the venue.’
      • ‘In one week, the number kept in hospital due to social services delays hit zero for the first time ever.’
      • ‘I was walking in the mall and for the first time ever, I needed to sit on a bench just to rest.’
      • ‘Hell, I even did the Su Doku on the back of The Times today for the first time ever.’
      • ‘I am now discovering the merits of a leisurely breakfast 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.’
      • ‘Although I had the valuable excuse when it went wrong that this was the first time I'd ever done it.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘For some of them, it was the first time they had ever come across people from different cultures.’
      • ‘For the first time ever, local people have been given a forum to express their views.’
      • ‘Could this be the first coffee morning ever conducted entirely on the internet?’
      • ‘That was the first time she had ever seen me do anything before an audience and she loved it.’
      • ‘Yup, last night, for the first time ever, I was not at home to put my babies to bed.’
      first, initial, introductory, initiatory, launching
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 Coming next after a specified or implied time or occurrence.
      ‘I didn't take the first bus’
      • ‘It was the first event in the year so it was a really nice chance for people to catch up.’
      • ‘The first problem McCall encountered on his return was a severely depleted player roll.’
      • ‘The first action in the event of a fire is to put on the gas mask each crewman is issued.’
      • ‘This left Helen and Katy to pick up third in class on their first event together.’
      • ‘My first encounter with the Humberside police was just two weeks after Christopher died.’
      • ‘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. 1.3 Met with or encountered before any others.
      ‘the first house I came to’
    4. 1.4 Originally.
      ‘many valuable drugs have been recognized first as poisons’
    5. 1.5 Before doing something else specified or implied.
      ‘Do you mind if I take a shower first?’
      • ‘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?’
      before anything else, first and foremost, firstly, in the first place
      View synonyms
    6. 1.6 For the first time.
      ‘she first picked up a guitar out of sheer boredom’
      • ‘One set of accounts suggests that the story first surfaced in Germany in the 1930s.’
      • ‘I can remember when this story first emerged.’
    7. 1.7 Firstly; in the first place (used to introduce a first point or reason)
      ‘first, it is wrong that the victims should have no remedy’
    8. 1.8 In 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!’
      in preference, more willingly, sooner, rather
      View synonyms
    9. 1.9informal The first occurrence of something notable.
      ‘we traveled by air, a first for both of us’
      • ‘York City's 4-1 FA Cup triumph over Radcliffe Borough last Sunday marked a number of notable firsts for the Minstermen.’
      • ‘Less well known has been his quiet role as vice chairman of Space Adventures, which includes some notable firsts.’
      • ‘But for me personally it was an experience of many firsts, beyond nature.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘On the way over to Hawaii, we experienced so many firsts that we lost count.’
      • ‘When I was with him, I experienced a lot of firsts actually.’
      • ‘Space missions have always been big TV moments, be they historic firsts, like the moon landing in 1969…’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Jeff was the man that had experienced all her firsts with her.’
      • ‘Early on, Canadian fighter pilots logged a number of firsts in air combat.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘A few other firsts that occurred that night; Hogan lost cleanly for the first time in about eight years.’
      • ‘Zacharias Kunuk has been experiencing a lot of firsts lately.’
      novelty, new experience, first experience, first occurrence, unusual event
      View synonyms
    10. 1.10 The 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.’
    11. 1.11Baseball First base.
      ‘he made it all the way home from first’
    12. 1.12British The first grade of a school.
      • ‘It was in 1988, my first year in the first grade, and the Blacks used to come on a full tour.’
      • ‘Paul and Karen have been friends since first grade, but never made it to second base.’
      • ‘Sumire sighed, used to the routine she had undergone all during first through eighth grade.’
      • ‘Leah was six and also in first grade, but her gift was in mathematics, and she was at a fifth grade level.’
      • ‘My parents sent me to sleep away schools since the time I was in first grade.’
    13. 1.13 A first edition of a book.
      ‘collectors of modern firsts’
      • ‘The aims and compass of this edition have not changed from those of the first.’
      • ‘For the most part, however, the structure of this edition will be familiar to readers of the first.’
  • 2Foremost in position, rank, or importance.

    ‘the doctor's first duty is to respect this right’
    ‘I always put myself first’
    ‘football must come first’
    • ‘The Parole Board's first duty is to ensure any prisoner it releases is not a risk to the public.’
    • ‘My feeling about this statement has always been that it's a shame, but people come first.’
    • ‘The quality of life has got to come first above creating ugly urban sprawl.’
    • ‘The judge pointed to prosecution evidence that showed he put safety first.’
    • ‘Paxton and Lineen have never lost sight of the fact that sport is fun, and that players come first.’
    • ‘If anything is to be learned from the whole sorry affair, it is that the child must come first.’
    • ‘They share the opinion that the customer should come first rather than political egos.’
    • ‘My law states that I come first, everybody else has to have second place in my life.’
    • ‘And the very first duty of government is to uphold the law and to make the citizens secure.’
    • ‘At the end of the day, everybody's got family and they do have to come first.’
    • ‘A really good king would have been one who accepted that the interests of the great should come first.’
    • ‘A surprise visit from inspectors helps a CEO see the importance of putting safety first.’
    • ‘Above all, people must feel safe, and that means economic policy must not come first.’
    • ‘There is no life story without fiction, but the story, your life, should come first.’
    • ‘The male lover's career is a conceit that according to the author often has to come first.’
    • ‘I am a driver myself and I know how difficult it is to park in these streets but surely lives must come first.’
    • ‘Her reaction left no question in my mind that the grass ought to come first.’
    • ‘I must have said that the players come first and looking after them is the most important thing.’
    • ‘It should be a rigorously independent watchdog whose first duty is to the public interest.’
    • ‘The urge for immortality, too, has often been of the first importance to writers.’
    foremost, principal, highest, greatest, paramount, top, topmost, utmost, uppermost, prime, chief, leading, main, major
    top, best, prime, premier, superlative
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1often 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’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Inbound tourist operators are the first to admit their jobs are the cream of the crop.’
      • ‘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.’
    2. 2.2 The first finisher or position in a race or competition.
      • ‘In fleet racing, the dominant type at the Olympics, the first to cross the line wins the race.’
      • ‘Schoeman ranked first in the world last year in the 50 meter long course.’
      • ‘He's also timed it so that he's going out as the first finishers in the race are coming in.’
      • ‘Then there's Tom Wilkens, ranked first in the world in '98 in the 200.’
      • ‘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.’
    3. 2.3Music Performing the highest or chief of two or more parts for the same instrument or voice.
      ‘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.’
      • ‘I looked up at one point in the middle of the second act, to see something strange going on in the first violins.’
    4. 2.4British A place in the top grade in an examination, especially that for a degree.
      ‘he took a first in Classics’
    5. 2.5British A person having achieved a top grade in an examination.
    6. 2.6firsts Goods of the best quality.
      ‘factory firsts, seconds, and discontinued styles’
  • 3With 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.’
    • ‘Down she fell head first onto the floor.’
    • ‘She stumbled and tripped, and landed face first on the ground.’
    • ‘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 got about four steps away when she tripped over her leg rope and fell face first into a puddle.’

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

  • first and last

    • Fundamentally; on the whole.

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

    • 1Before doing anything else; at the beginning.

      ‘first of all, let me ask you something’
      • ‘Her Honour Justice Branson first of all basically agrees with his Honour Justice Wilcox.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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?’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Right, first of all do not ask me anything about teenage pregnancy and having trouble in sexual situations.’
      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.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘All I really wanted to really talk about was first of all what a relief it is to hear James talking.’
        • ‘My main goal in life, first of all, is to live every day to the fullest, no matter how long that is.’
        • ‘The advancement of science depends, first of all, on the free flow of information.’
        • ‘Well, first of all, I never would have allowed it to get out of control the way it did.’
        • ‘Well, I think, first of all, that the fact he lied about his affair is going to hurt him.’
        • ‘I did not believe that a man my age, first of all, could fall in love like a teenager.’
        • ‘With gaming, young people can get involved and, first of all, it's a culture where you can belong.’
  • first off

    • informal As a first point; first of all.

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

      • ‘After two very promising performances it should be only a matter of time before Maryann The Dancer is first past the post.’
      • ‘Local Claremorris man Finbar Donnellan also had a share in a horse that was first past the post in one of Wednesday's races.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It was not always the favourites that came first past the post, which all added to the excitement.’
      • ‘Esha Ness, ridden by John White and trained by Jenny Pitman, was the first past the post but the race was later declared void.’
      • ‘Tales abound of this man who walked 10 miles in his bare feet for cystic fibrosis in 1975 and was first past the post.’
      • ‘Kieran was first past the post in the 1500 metres on the Saturday, turning in an excellent time of 5.58.’
      • ‘If he is first past the post then the victory will put a very serious dent in the profits on bookmakers operating in Ireland.’
      • ‘F1 Racing were first past the post in their game at Bay Horse Tadcaster.’
      1. 1.1British attributiveDenoting an electoral system in which a candidate or party is selected by achievement of a simple majority.
        ‘our first-past-the-post electoral system’
        • ‘Secondly, making an electoral breakthrough in a first past the post electoral system remains tough.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘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 totally accept that no first past the post system is infallible.’
        • ‘It returns Italy, after 12 years of flirtation with first past the post, to a proportional system.’
        • ‘We proved under the first past the post system in Preston that we can win.’
        • ‘The first past the post system won't deliver that.’
        • ‘These are, of course, first past the post elections, and therefore difficult for us to make a mark on.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘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.’
  • first thing

    • Early in the morning; before anything else.

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

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

      • ‘So there is a lot to be done, but first things first.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Let's deal with first things first, and the thing that's getting the most attention is the headline grabber.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘But first things first, you have to have other goals first, just getting in there and getting game time is the first step.’
      • ‘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?’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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’
      • ‘It was a genius that Bolzano saw from the very first.’
      • ‘No wonder I'd felt connected to Antonio from the very first.’
      • ‘She was headstrong and determined to have her way from the very first.’
      • ‘When we notice the geese afresh we realize, as Ma Tsu says, they've been there from the very first.’
      • ‘It is true to say that, from the first, the country's attitude to Europe has been ambivalent.’
      • ‘I know that that is what God had intended from the very first.’
      • ‘The central problems of the Empire, present from the very first, were revealed plainly in the crisis.’
      • ‘He had been an easy delivery and Erin loved her little boy 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.’
      • ‘They were encouraged from the first to be scrupulous in their use of various powers.’
      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’
      • ‘There's been unbroken sunshine from first to last, with barely a token cloud in the sky.’
      • ‘They weren't always enthusiastic supporters; they were skeptical 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.’’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It was into the second half before the important second goal arrived, but Hibs were dominant 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.’
      • ‘Clyde were totally dominant from first to last in a game Celtic fans must have been begging to end.’
      • ‘On paper, Aberdeen seemed inadequately equipped to slug it out with O'Neill's team, but their commitment was ferocious from first to last.’
      • ‘By contrast, Thomas Otway's Venice Preserved commands our aesthetic and political attention 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’
      • ‘He's right, but he's got a nerve considering his party broke that link in the first place.’
      • ‘This is, in fact, one of the principle reasons the Top Table was created in the first place.’
      • ‘To answer this we must consider whether Doris's acceptance is valid in the first place.’
      • ‘It wasn't as if the Mini was an especially greedy consumer of petrol 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.’
      • ‘That was one of the primary issues that prompted the application 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’
        • ‘If he didn't think Scott was good enough, why did he pick him in the first place?’
        • ‘It is always important to remind ourselves who created this state of affairs 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.’
        • ‘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.’
        • ‘If you believe you have been misled complain to the company or person who sold you the plan in the first place.’
        • ‘The hard thing, as I'm finding out, is getting the people in there 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.’
        • ‘By the way, why do you feel the need to mention the fact that you carry a knife in the first place?’
        • ‘What makes me feel so really stupid is how I actually managed to begin smoking in the first place.’
        • ‘Sadly, it also gave me the chance to remember why we had lost touch 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.’
      • ‘Warming up, he says: ‘The transatlantic relationship remains an asset of the first order.’’
      • ‘It was a disaster of the first order, but Daun was still wary of the ever-aggressive Frederick, with reason.’
      • ‘However, the overall campaign was a disaster of the first order.’
      • ‘Is this wickedness of the first order or rational economic behaviour?’
      • ‘Sarris calls the film ‘a masterpiece 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.’
      • ‘Then there's Bernov's trademark balalaika-bass, a four-stringed oddity of the first order, pictured above for your amusement.’
      • ‘But to say that it's all going to come out fine, that always struck me as being wishful thinking 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
  • 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.’
      • ‘He was struck by the car as he walked home from a wedding, and at first it was feared he might not survive.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The driver had not wanted to take him at first because he was so drunk he had to be supported by three women.’
      • ‘It can be a bit daunting at first but once they get started and have a go they really enjoy it and learn quickly.’
      • ‘You do have to be a bit of a contortionist at first to engage gear, but it is a sportsbike after all.’
      • ‘He was fine at first then complained about not feeling well and went back to bed.’
      at first, to begin with, at the beginning, at the start, first of all, at the outset, initially
      View synonyms
  • 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’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Seating for the these concerts will be limited and admission is by ticket only on the door at £5.00, first come, first served.’
      • ‘The open auditions will be run on a first come, first served basis with entrants arriving at the venue by 9.00 am.’
      • ‘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?’
      • ‘It's first come, first served, so please act quickly!’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘All are first come, first served; arrive early on weekends.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Due to the high level of interest in the course, applications will be dealt with on a first come, first served basis.’

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//fərst/