foremost

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From Old English formest, fyrmest (earliest, first, most prominent), from Proto-Germanic *frumistaz, from the locative stem *fur-, *fr- + the superlative suffix *-umistaz, stem ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *pr-. The suffix *-umistaz was a compound suffix, created from the rarer comparative suffix *-umô (as in Old English fruma) + the regular superlative suffix *-istaz (English -est); *-umô in turn is from Proto-Indo-European *-mHo-.

Cognate with Old Frisian formest, Gothic 𐍆𐍂𐌿𐌼𐌹𐍃𐍄𐍃 (frumists). See for, first and Old English fruma for more. Partially cognate to primus, from Proto-Indo-European *pr- + Latin superlative suffix -imus, from Proto-Indo-European *-mHo-.

A comparative former was back-formed analogically, leaving the m from *-umô in place. Later the Old English suffix complex -(u)m-est was conflated with the word most through folk etymology, so that the word is now interpreted as fore +‎ -most.

Pronunciation[edit]

Adjective[edit]

foremost (not comparable)

  1. Positioned in front of (all) others in space, most forward.
    Synonyms: front, frontmost
    Antonyms: back, backmost, hindmost, rear, rearmost
  2. Coming before (all) others in time.
    Synonym: first
    • c. 1615, George Chapman (translator), Homer’s Odysses, London: Nathaniel Butter, Book 7, p. 102,[3]
      [] of both them, she / (By Pallas counsell) was to haue the grace / Of foremost greeting.
    • 1769, Oliver Goldsmith, The Roman History, London: S. Baker and G. Leigh et al., Volume 1, Chapter 16, p. 254,[4]
      He was the best horseman, and the swiftest runner of his time. He was ever the foremost to engage, and the last to retreat;
    • a. 1891, Herman Melville, Billy Budd, in The Shorter Novels of Herman Melville, New York: Fawcett Premier, 1956, Chapter 17, p. 244,[5]
      a bright young schoolmate of his whom he had seen struck by much the same startling impotence in the act of eagerly rising in the class to be foremost in response to a testing question put to it by the master
  3. Of the highest rank or position; of the greatest importance; of the highest priority.
    Synonyms: greatest, leading, paramount, primary, principal, top
    The exhibition features works by the country’s foremost artists.
    Foremost among the workers’ grievances was the company’s failure to address the many safety issues in the plant.
    • 1599 (first performance), William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of Iulius Cæsar”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act IV, scene iii]:
      What, shall one of us / That struck the foremost man of all this world / But for supporting robbers, shall we now / Contaminate our fingers with base bribes,
    • 1759, George Colman, The Rolliad, Canto 1, in Prose on Several Occasions: Accompanied with Some Pieces in Verse, London: T. Cadel, 1787, Volume 2, p. 292,[6]
      And have I then so oft, enrag’d she cried, / My longing soul its foremost wish denied?
    • 1846, Frederick Douglass, Reception Speech at Finsbury Chapel, Moorfields, England, May 12, 1846, in My Bondage and My Freedom, New York: Miller, Orton & Mulligan, 1855, Appendix, pp. 410-411,[7]
      Of all things that have been said of slavery to which exception has been taken by slaveholders, this, the charge of cruelty, stands foremost, and yet there is no charge capable of clearer demonstration, than that of the most barbarous inhumanity on the part of the slaveholders toward their slaves.
    • 1993, Vikram Seth, A Suitable Boy, New Delhi: Penguin India, 1994, Section 9.13, p. 580,[8]
      She was thinking of other matters. What was foremost on her mind was Haresh’s panama hat, which (though he had doffed it) she thought exceptionally stupid.
  4. (nautical) Closest to the bow.
    Antonym: aftermost
    • 1900, Joseph Conrad, Lord Jim, Edinburgh: William Blackwood, Chapter 10, p. 133,[9]
      I let fall the tiller, turned my back on them, and sat down on the foremost thwart.

Derived terms[edit]

Translations[edit]

The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.

Adverb[edit]

foremost (not comparable)

  1. In front, prominently forward.
    • 1704, Jonathan Swift, A Tale of a Tub, London: John Nutt, “The Conclusion,” pp. 215-216,[10]
      No Man hath more nicely observed our Climate, than the Bookseller who bought the Copy of this Work; He knows to a Tittle what Subjects will best go off in a dry Year, and which it is proper to expose foremost, when the Weather-glass is fallen to much Rain.
    • 1820, John Keats, “Lamia,” Part 1, in Lamia, Isabella, The Eve of St. Agnes, and Other Poems, London: Taylor and Hessey, p. 15,[11]
      She saw the young Corinthian Lycius / Charioting foremost in the envious race,
    • 1944 January and February, E. R. McCarter, “The Cairn Valley Light Railway”, in Railway Magazine, page 47:
      The little engine stood, tender foremost, at the platform, with its two coaches; [...].
    • 1946, Mervyn Peake, Titus Groan, Penguin, 1981, p. 137,[12]
      [] what haunts the heart will, when it is found, leap foremost, blinding the eye and leaving the main of Life in darkness.
  2. First in time.
  3. Most importantly.
    Synonyms: especially, particularly
    • 1838 March – 1839 October, Charles Dickens, The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, London: Chapman and Hall, [], published 1839, OCLC 1057107260:
      [] Mrs. Nickleby, with the utmost sincerity, gave vent to her sorrows after her own peculiar fashion of considering herself foremost,
    • 1951, William Styron, Lie Down in Darkness, Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, Chapter 5, p. 214,[15]
      It seemed as if he had been gently awakened from a long sleep. The corners of his mouth hung down, drugged and paralyzed, and through the gray light of this soft, new-born consciousness it occurred to him first, prime and foremost (order, order, he found himself pleading) that he was not properly articulating.

Derived terms[edit]

Translations[edit]

The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.