first

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English[edit]

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Pronunciation[edit]

Etymology 1[edit]

English ordinal numbers
 <  0th 1st 2nd  > 
    Ordinal : first
    Cardinal : one

From Middle English first, furst, ferst, fyrst, from Old English fyrst, fyrest (first, foremost, principal, chief, original), from Proto-Germanic *furistaz (foremost, first), superlative of Proto-Germanic *fur, *fura, *furi (before), from Proto-Indo-European *per-, *pero- (forward, beyond, around), equivalent to fore +‎ -est. Cognate with North Frisian foarste (first), Dutch voorste (foremost, first), German Fürst (chief, prince, literally first (born)), Swedish första (first), Icelandic fyrstur (first).

Alternative forms[edit]

Adjective[edit]

first (not comparable)

  1. Preceding all others of a series or kind; the ordinal of one; earliest.
    • 1898, Winston Churchill, chapter 2, The Celebrity:
      Sunning himself on the board steps, I saw for the first time Mr. Farquhar Fenelon Cooke. He was dressed out in broad gaiters and bright tweeds, like an English tourist, and his face might have belonged to Dagon, idol of the Philistines.
    • 2013 August 3, “Yesterday’s fuel”, The Economist, volume 408, number 8847: 
      The dawn of the oil age was fairly recent. Although the stuff was used to waterproof boats in the Middle East 6,000 years ago, extracting it in earnest began only in 1859 after an oil strike in Pennsylvania. The first barrels of crude fetched $18 (around $450 at today’s prices).
    The first day of September 2013 was a Sunday.   I was the first runner to reach the finish line, and won the race.
  2. Most eminent or exalted; most excellent; chief; highest.
    • 1784: William Jones, The Description and Use of a New Portable Orrery, &c., PREFACE
      THE favourable reception the Orrery has met with from Perſons of the firſt diſtinction, and from Gentlemen and Ladies in general, has induced me to add to it ſeveral new improvements in order to give it a degree of Perfection; and diſtinguiſh it from others; which by Piracy, or Imitation, may be introduced to the Public.
    Demosthenes was the first orator of Greece.
Alternative forms[edit]
  • 1st; (in names of monarchs and popes) I
Translations[edit]

Adverb[edit]

first (not comparable)

  1. Before anything else; firstly.
    Clean the sink first, before you even think of starting to cook.
    • 1913, Joseph C. Lincoln, chapter 8, Mr. Pratt's Patients:
      That concertina was a wonder in its way. The handles that was on it first was wore out long ago, and he'd made new ones of braided rope yarn. And the bellows was patched in more places than a cranberry picker's overalls.
    • 2013 June 29, “Unspontaneous combustion”, The Economist, volume 407, number 8842, page 29: 
      Since the mid-1980s, when Indonesia first began to clear its bountiful forests on an industrial scale in favour of lucrative palm-oil plantations, “haze” has become an almost annual occurrence in South-East Asia.
Translations[edit]

Noun[edit]

first (countable and uncountable, plural firsts)

  1. (uncountable) The person or thing in the first position.
    He was the first to complete the course.
  2. (uncountable) The first gear of an engine.
  3. (countable) Something that has never happened before; a new occurrence.
    This is a first. For once he has nothing to say.
  4. (countable, baseball) first base
    There was a close play at first.
  5. (countable, UK, colloquial) A first-class honours degree.
  6. (countable, colloquial) A first-edition copy of some publication.
  7. A fraction of an integer ending in one.
    one forty-first of the estate
Translations[edit]

Derived terms[edit]

See also[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

From Middle English first, furst, fyrst, from Old English fyrst, fierst, first (period, space of time, time, respite, truce), from Proto-Germanic *fristaz, *fristą (date, appointed time), from Proto-Indo-European *pres-, *per- (forward, forth, over, beyond). Cognate with North Frisian ferst, frest (period, time), German Frist (period, deadline, term), Swedish frist (deadline, respite, reprieve, time-limit), Icelandic frestur (period). See also frist.

Noun[edit]

first (plural firsts)

  1. (obsolete) Time; time granted; respite.

Statistics[edit]

Anagrams[edit]