Definition of first gear in US English:

first gear


  • 1The lowest in a set of gears on a vehicle, used when traveling very slowly.

    • ‘I would stop the car at the top of the hill, engage first gear, and proceed as slowly as possible down the hill without touching the accelerator.’
    • ‘However, the transmission has a tendency to kick down into first gear all too easily, which can make progress around town a little jerky.’
    • ‘He shifted to the first gear and the jeep rolled off the side and onto the freeway.’
    • ‘But attempt a steep hill and you will be forced to drop down through the six-speed manual gearbox to first gear far quicker than you might expect.’
    • ‘If not, go slowly in first gear with the engine revving, as this helps to prevent stalling.’
    1. 1.1 Used in reference to a failure to make progress.
      ‘in a scrappy first half neither team seemed to get out of first gear’
      • ‘People tell her she could be massive if she would just get herself out of first gear.’
      • ‘My brain barely makes it out of first gear on a Friday.’
      • ‘"All credit to Bradford for making a game of it, but we never got out of first gear and should have done better."’
      • ‘Flat, pedestrian writing and excruciatingly slow pacing keep the show stuck in first gear.’
      • ‘Silverbridge played well in the first half but neither side looked to be in first gear.’
      • ‘The reply never got out of first gear until the score was 110-8.’
      • ‘There is a first gear and a fifth gear and nothing much in between!’
      • ‘But they were worthy of a point on a day when the home side rarely got out of first gear.’
      • ‘The ingredients for a decent read are there, but Egleton bogs us down with too much detail so Cry Havoc never gets out of first gear.’
      • ‘The tunes wander aimlessly and the album fails to get out of first gear.’
      • ‘And when it comes to looking normal, the Tories are not even in first gear yet.’
      • ‘In a scrappy first half neither team seemed to get out of first gear.’
      • ‘They kind of ease back to first gear and switch off different parts of the brain in sequence.’
      • ‘In their second match, Navy capitalised on Air Force's slow change out of first gear with an early goal.’
      • ‘Andrews produced a string of superb saves throughout the match as Witton dominated for long periods while Dale struggled to get out of first gear.’
      • ‘Hardly representative of his 12 months most of which were spent injured or persevering in first gear.’
      • ‘We didn't really get out of first gear in the second half.’
      • ‘It's up to Smith to shift out of first gear.’
      • ‘Celtic were barely out of first gear, but already seemingly accelerating away.’
      • ‘She says the two did share a bed, but he didn't get out of first gear.’