Meaning of FIRST in English

/ fɜːst; NAmE fɜːrst/ determiner , ordinal number , adverb , noun

■ determiner , ordinal number


happening or coming before all other similar things or people; 1st :

his first wife

It was the first time they had ever met.

I didn't take the first bus.

students in their first year at college

your first impressions

She resolved to do it at the first (= earliest) opportunity.

King Edward I (= said as 'King Edward the First')

the first of May / May 1st

His second book is better than his first.


the most important or best :

Your first duty is to your family.

She won first prize in the competition.

an issue of the first importance


- there's a first time for everything

—more at order noun

■ adverb


before anyone or anything else; at the beginning :

'Do you want a drink?' 'I'll finish my work first.'

First I had to decide what to wear.

Who came first in the race (= who won) ?

It plunged nose first into the river.


for the first time :

When did you first meet him?


used to introduce the first of a list of points you want to make in a speech or piece of writing

SYN firstly :

This method has two advantages: first it is cheaper and second it is quicker.


used to emphasize that you are determined not to do sth :

She swore that she wouldn't apologize—she'd die first!


- at first

- come first

- first and foremost

- first and last

- first come, first served

- first of all

➡ note at firstly

- first off

- first up

- put sb/sth first

—more at foot noun , head noun , safety

■ noun


the first [ C ] ( pl. the first ) the first person or thing mentioned; the first person or thing to do a particular thing :

I was the first in my family to go to college.

Sheila and Jim were the first to arrive.

I'd be the first to admit (= I will most willingly admit) I might be wrong.

The first I heard about the wedding (= the first time I became aware of it) was when I saw it in the local paper.


[ C , usually sing. ] an achievement, event, etc., never done or experienced before :

We went on a cruise, a first for both of us.


(also ˌfirst ˈgear ) [ U ] the lowest gear on a car, bicycle, etc. that you use when you are moving slowly :

He stuck the car in first and revved.


[ C ] first (in sth) the highest level of university degree at British universities :

She got a first in maths at Exeter.

—compare second , third


- first among equals

- from the (very) first

- from first to last



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 .

Oxford Advanced Learner's English Dictionary.      Оксфордский английский словарь для изучающик язык на продвинутом уровне.