See also: First


English Wikipedia has an article on:
English numbers (edit)
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    Cardinal: one
    Ordinal: first
    Latinate ordinal: primary
    Adverbial: one time, once
    Multiplier: onefold
    Latinate multiplier: single
    Distributive: singly
    Collective: onesome
    Multiuse collective: singlet
    Greek or Latinate collective: monad
    Greek collective prefix: mono-
    Latinate collective prefix: uni-
    Fractional: whole
    Elemental: singlet
    Greek prefix: proto-
    Number of musicians: solo
    Number of years: year


Etymology 1Edit

From Middle English first, furst, ferst, fyrst, from Old English fyrest, 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 först (first), Norwegian Nynorsk fyrst (first), Icelandic fyrstur (first).

Other cognates include Sanskrit पूर्व (pūrva, first) and Russian первый (pervyj).

Alternative formsEdit


first (not comparable)

  1. Preceding all others of a series or kind; the ordinal of one; earliest.
    Hancock was first to arrive.
    • 1897 December (indicated as 1898), Winston Churchill, chapter II, in The Celebrity: An Episode, New York, N.Y.: The Macmillan Company; London: Macmillan & Co., Ltd., →OCLC:
      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”, in 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.
    • 1880, S. W. Silver & Co, Handbook for Australia & New Zealand (page 146)
      It rose to be the first of pastoral regions, and continued until after the gold discovery to be the land of squatterdom.
    Demosthenes was the first orator of Greece.
    the first violinist
  3. Of or belonging to a first family.
    First Cat; First Daughter; First Dog; First Son
Related termsEdit


first (not comparable)

  1. Before anything else; firstly.
    Clean the sink first, before you even think of starting to cook.
    I plunged nose first into the water.
    • 1913, Joseph C. Lincoln, chapter 8, in 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”, in 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.
  2. For the first time.
    I first witnessed a death when I was nine years old.
  3. (Hong Kong, nonstandard) Now.[1]


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.
    • 2020, Jim Pace, Should We Fire God?
      I remember other firsts: how I wussily asked her out the first time, and the first time I told her I loved her.
  4. (countable, baseball) first base
    There was a close play at first.
  5. (countable, Britain, colloquial) A first-class honours degree.
    • 2004, William H. Cropper, Great Physicists (page 454)
      [Stephen Hawking] [] would go to Cambridge, he said, if they gave him a first, and stay at Oxford if they gave him a second. He got a first.
  6. (countable, colloquial) A first-edition copy of some publication.
  7. (in combination) A fraction whose (integer) denominator ends in the digit 1.
    one forty-first of the estate

Derived termsEdit

Terms derived from the adjective, adverb, or noun first

See alsoEdit

Etymology 2Edit

From Middle English first, furst, fyrst, from Old English fyrst, fierst, first (period, space of time, time, respite, truce), from Proto-Germanic *frestaz, *fristiz, *frestą (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.


first (plural firsts)

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


  • first at OneLook Dictionary Search
  1. ^ Nury Vittachi (2002), “From Yinglish to sado-mastication”, in Kingsley Bolton, editor, Hong Kong English: Autonomy and Creativity, Hong Kong University Press, page 213: “Another word with what is apparently a direct translation is the word 'first', which is 'sin' in Cantonese. The two words do seem to have largely identical meanings, except 'sin' also carries the meaning 'now'.”


Middle EnglishEdit

Alternative formsEdit


From Old English fyrest, from Proto-West Germanic *furist, from Proto-Germanic *furistaz.


  • IPA(key): /first/, /furst/, /fɛrst/



  1. first


  • English: first
  • Scots: first
  • Yola: vursth, vurst, virst, vrist