Definition of number one in US English:

number one


  • 1A person or thing that is the best or the most important in an activity or area.

    ‘businesses that were number one in their markets’
    • ‘In 1990, when the Sunday Times first began compiling its rich list, the Queen was the undisputed number one.’
    • ‘The company was among the top ten Buick dealerships in the country in 2001 and has been number one in Buick retail sales in Ohio for the last seven years.’
    • ‘Anna had everything a little girl could want, but she thought that, if it wasn't to be number one in the family, then she'd rather not have any of that and be number one in something else.’
    • ‘Goal number one must be to sustain a livable biosphere.’
    • ‘He will have to learn from it and needs to stamp his authority as a number one to make sure I don't change my decision to have him.’
    • ‘As a paragon of the virtues that folk music holds in its cultural armoury, June Tabor must surely rate as number one.’
    • ‘Quarterfinal action started with world number one, Peter Nicol, facing fellow countryman, 8th-ranked Nick Matthew.’
    • ‘Survival rule number one: Come hell or high water, you must get on the train; don't even think about securing a seat yet.’
    • ‘Els remembers the difference he saw in the world number one at the 2000 Presidents Cup compared to the 1998 match in Australia.’
    • ‘Through all the years performing on stage Leviev kept on repeating his motto that it is not important to be number one but to sustain your position.’
    • ‘Now she gets involved with men who have multiple partners and burns herself out trying to be number one with them.’
    • ‘Former world number one Andre Agassi must be cursing his luck in tiebreaks.’
    • ‘According to a 1996 survey, Massachusetts ranks number one in venture capital spending but not a single penny has been spent on development on the Site.’
    • ‘In South Carolina, Dean too embraced the principle that the US must forever be the number one military power on the planet.’
    • ‘World number one Mark Williams and Masters winner Paul Hunter are also due to compete.’
    • ‘That's concept number one you must grasp in order to gain any further insight into our national psyche.’
    • ‘Being number one was more important than winning titles.’
    • ‘Oprah taught me the business skills that not only help you to become number one but also to stay number one.’
    • ‘Your coach is number one on Google and 35 other search engines with the key words, ‘book coaching.’’
    • ‘In his own country the recently launched education strategy is referred to as job number one.’
    primary, main, chief, key, prime, central, principal, overriding, foremost, first, most important, predominant, paramount, major, ruling, dominant, master, supreme, cardinal, pre-eminent, ultimate
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    1. 1.1 A recording or other product in a particular category that has sold the most copies in a particular time period.
      ‘an album featuring seventeen top movie themes and six number ones’
      • ‘First of all, ‘Thriller’ remains the number one selling album of all time.’
      • ‘Not every young person is going to get onto Popstars, or sell a number one record.’
      • ‘Finally, the number one was Prince Charming by the fabulous Adam and the Ants.’
      • ‘McFly's first two singles, Five Colours in Her Hair and Obviously, both entered the charts at number one.’
      • ‘Before the woozy rhyming couplets of Afroman hit number one, the foremost musical preachers of recreational marijuana use were Latino hip hoppers Cypress Hill.’
      • ‘In the last six months the band have had a number one single and album.’
      • ‘The final of the souped-up talent contest is on Saturday, December 17, which gives the winner four days to get a single into the shops in time to make a claim on the Christmas number-one spot, assuming G4 or Westlife don't get there first.’
      • ‘He has now been the world number one for a record 139 successive weeks.’
      • ‘A prominent position on an Outfit jukebox almost guaranteed a song would be a hit, so record producers and promoters often paid the gangsters to put their record in the number one spot.’
      • ‘A Christmas number one will sell a number of times as many copies as a number one at any other time, and there is a huge amount of publicity.’
      • ‘Written by Tim O'Riordan, from Ballincollig, Cork, the song shot to the number one spot with 5,714 copies sold last week.’
      • ‘‘The average single which gets to the number one spot sells between 60,000 and 75,000 copies,’ he said.’
      • ‘The boys entered the pop big league earlier this year when their debut single, Five Colours In Her Hair, spent two weeks at number one.’
      • ‘It's hard to say the number one book of short stories.’
      • ‘There are laughs a plenty in this new twist on a rockumentary that takes you from a group on the edge of extinction to a thriving, heavy metal band with an new number one album and a sold-out world tour.’
      • ‘Add this to the seven she had with the Spice Girls, and Geri holds the record for the most number one's by a female artist in the UK.’
      • ‘This record-breaking album held the number one position longer than any other in 1996.’
      • ‘These three lines from one song from the current number one Hindi film soundtrack album (Kal Ho Naa Ho) in Mumbai say it all.’
  • 2Used in reference to oneself.

    ‘you must look after number one’
    • ‘The fact that he treated me like a loyal puppy never bothered me much because I knew that I was always number one when it came to his heart, always one of the most important people in his life.’
    self-interested, self-seeking, self-serving, self-regarding, selfish, egocentric, egotistic, egotistical, self-obsessed, self-absorbed, wrapped up in oneself, inward-looking
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  • 3Used euphemistically to refer to urine.

  • 4The shortest men's cropped haircut produced with electric hair clippers.

    • ‘Nearly all the women had hair on the curly/frizzy/wavy continuum and nearly all the men had a number one / two haircut.’
  • 5A lieutenant junior grade in the navy or the coast guard.


  • 1Most important or prevalent; foremost.

    ‘a number-one priority’
    ‘coronary disease is the number-one killer of American men’
    • ‘I honestly think that avoiding relegation back to Division Two must be the number one priority.’
    • ‘I think that in 10 to 15 years that we will achieve our number one strategic political objective of re-uniting this country.’
    • ‘What, Dr. DeSilva, is the number one medical problem, is it the cholera, is it the waterborne disease, typhoid?’
    • ‘The need for a Radiotherapy Unit for the South East Region must be the number one priority for Waterford.’
    • ‘Mr Ahern was speaking after Government tensions about how to approach the number one political issue ahead of the forthcoming election again spilled over into the public domain.’
    • ‘There will have to be pool closures over the weekends and summer holidays, because health and safety must be our number one priority.’
    • ‘Our number-one priority has been reducing the numbers of those at risk of internal sewer flooding and addressing the worst cases of external flooding.’
    • ‘Pernod Ricard announced last week that a huge marketing push has helped Chivas Regal to become the number one imported spirit in China.’
    • ‘The number one health and wellness activity women practice is taking vitamins and nutritional supplements.’
    • ‘Andy Brown, BSM roadshow manager, said: ‘Learning to drive is a number-one priority for most young people.’’
    • ‘Once they near retirement, this powerful voting bloc will see Social Security and Medicare as their number one political issue.’
    • ‘Taking a walk on the Rila Mountain is considered the number one summer activity.’
    • ‘‘Our number-one priority was performance,’ says chief engineer Nobuaki Katayama.’
    • ‘Meantime, the U.S. Coast Guard says rescuing victims stranded by Katrina is its number-one priority.’
    • ‘Tax is the number one political issue in Wandsworth.’
    • ‘York Trading Standards urges everyone to remember, when storing or letting off fireworks, that safety has to be the number-one priority, especially child safety.’
    • ‘Email ranks as the number one most popular online activity according to virtually any survey you care to read.’
    • ‘His number-one priority, obviously, is preventing terrorism.’
    • ‘And we have to make sure that we restore people's faith in the electoral system, and that has to be my number-one priority right now.’
    • ‘Countering and investigating terrorist activity is the number one priority for both law enforcement and intelligence agencies.’
    main, chief, principal, key, major, salient, prime, dominant, foremost, supreme, predominant, paramount, overriding, cardinal, crucial, vital, indispensable, critical, essential, significant, urgent
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    1. 1.1 Best-selling.
      ‘a number-one album’
      • ‘Despite their number-one album, Permission to Land, their dramatic stage style complete with catsuits and spaceships meant that no one could decide whether they were serious or a comedy act.’
      • ‘The number one record ‘Simmer Down’ directly addressed the stifling alienation felt by youth at a time of few opportunities.’
      • ‘For the second week in a row now, Duff's greatest-hits collection is number-one album on the billboard chart, which is just out today.’
      • ‘It's the group's 10th studio album, following on from a gaggle of top 10 hits, 20 million record sales and five number one albums.’
      • ‘In America the airwaves were filled with a track bearing a strong resemblance to Chic's ‘Good Times’, a recent number one record by one of disco's top acts.’
      • ‘The voice of Dr Hook, he has enjoyed more than 60 gold and platinum albums and number one records in more than 40 countries.’
      • ‘Of course everyone is aware that it takes more luck than talent to have a number one record, but as Charlie says, no-one ever wrote, devised and recorded a song while standing on a street corner.’
      • ‘Since he took time off after a car crash in New Zealand nine months ago, his younger sibling has overtaken him in record sales, with a number one single and album.’
      • ‘Having said that - Robin had a number one record with a song called ‘Saved By The Bell.’’
      • ‘In addition, they had 15 number-one albums in the UK, and 19 in the US.’
      • ‘The number one book in this realm is, of course, the Bible.’
      • ‘He chose not to listen to that advice, persevered, and ultimately wrote nine novels including a New York Times number-one bestseller.’
      • ‘More than 10 million iPods have been sold since it was introduced, and it is the number one selling digital music player in the world.’
      • ‘What was the number one device sold at Christmas?’
      • ‘During this time he has had his own television series and a string of hit records, including a number one hit with Tears, as well as serious acting roles to his credit.’
      • ‘In 1955, Bill Haley became the first artist to sell more than one million copies of a number one single with ‘Rock Around The Clock’.’
      • ‘The book has been the number one selling book this Christmas, over sixty thousand copies, and reflects his enduring popularity.’
      • ‘She's had the record deal, the number one single, and the Heat magazine photoshoot.’
      • ‘We're going to be all live, and we have Mary J. Blige, who has the new number-one album in the country.’
      • ‘Riding the crest of this propaganda wave was the 1992 number-one best-selling book America: What Went Wrong by Donald Barlett and James Steele, one of the worst books of all time.’


number one

/ˈˌnəmbər ˈwən//ˈˌnəmbər ˈwən/