Last modified on 29 May 2014, at 18:26


Alternative formsEdit

Etymology 1Edit

From Middle English erste, from Old English ǣresta (first), from Proto-Germanic *airistaz (earliest, first), equivalent to ere +‎ -est. Cognate with North Frisian eerst, ærst (first), West Frisian earst (first), Dutch eerste (first), German erste (first).


erst (not comparable)

  1. (obsolete) First.

Etymology 2Edit

From Middle English erst, arst, erest, from Old English ǣrest (first, erst, at first, before all), from Proto-Germanic *airist (erst). Cognate with Scots erst (erst), Dutch eerst.


erst (not comparable)

  1. (obsolete) First of all, before (some other specified thing).
  2. (obsolete) Sooner (than); before.
    • 1485, Sir Thomas Malory, La Morte Darthur, Book X:
      Telle Kynge Marke that I woll com as sone as I am hole, for arste I may do hym no goode.
  3. (archaic, poetic) Formerly, once, erstwhile.
Derived termsEdit




See the numeral erste.




  1. first
  2. only (with time)
    Sie ist erst 28 Jahre alt.
    She is only 28 years old.
  3. not until, not for (with reference to the passage of time)
    Ich fliege erst nächstes Jahr in den Urlaub.
    I'm not going on vacation until next year.
    Mein Bruder kommt erst in drei Wochen an.
    My brother's not arriving for three weeks.

Usage notesEdit

With reference to the passage time, the opposite of erst is schon. While erst emphasizes how long it is until something happens, schon emphasizes how soon something will happen. Thus erst in drei Wochen means "not for three weeks [and that seems so far away]", while schon in drei Wochen means "in only three weeks [and I'm glad I don't have to wait longer!]".


Related termsEdit