See also: First

English edit

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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
    Group collective: onesome
    Multipart 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

Pronunciation edit

Etymology 1 edit

From Middle English first, furst, ferst, fyrst, from Old English fyrest, from Proto-West Germanic *furist, 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 forms edit

Adjective edit

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.
    Demosthenes was the first orator of Greece.
    the first violinist
    • 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, Handbook for Australia & New Zealand, Co, page 146:
      It rose to be the first of pastoral regions, and continued until after the gold discovery to be the land of squatterdom.
    • 1916 September 11, Anne Rittenhouse, “Dress: One-piece Frocks of Satin in Neutral Colors, With Bits of Colored Embroidery”, in The Journal and Tribune, volume 30, number 235, Knoxville, Tenn., page 6:
      The French openings decided that satin gowns, suits, wraps and even hats were to be in first fashion this autumn.
  3. Of or belonging to a first family.
    First Cat; First Daughter; First Dog; First Son
  4. Coming right after the zeroth in things that use zero-based numbering.
Related terms edit
Translations edit

Adverb edit

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[rosby] Lincoln, chapter VIII, in Mr. Pratt’s Patients, New York, N.Y., London: D[aniel] Appleton and Company, →OCLC:
      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. (Southeast Asia, Hong Kong, nonstandard) Now.[1]
Synonyms edit
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.
    • 1699, William Temple, Heads designed for an essay on conversations[1]:
      Study gives strength to the mind; conversation, grace: the first apt to give stiffness, the other suppleness: one gives substance and form to the statue, the other polishes it.
  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
Translations edit

Verb edit

first (third-person singular simple present firsts, present participle firsting, simple past and past participle firsted)

  1. (rare) To propose (a new motion) in a meeting, which must subsequently be seconded.
    • 1828, Diary of Thomas Burton, Esq. Member in the Parliaments of Oliver and Richard Cromwell, from 1656 to 1659: [], volume I, London: Henry Colburn, [], page 290:
      This motion has been firsted and seconded. I desire to third it.
    • 1920, Rural Manhood, volume 11, page 241, column 1:
      Sure—er—well, the motion was firsted and seconded that we kick ’em out; []
    • 1922, Grace Livingston Hill, The City of Fire, New York, N.Y.: Grosset & Dunlap, page 139:
      Sure, Brother Severn, I second that motion. If you hadn’t got ahead of me I’d have firsted it myself.

Derived terms edit

Terms derived from the adjective, adverb, or noun first

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 *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.

Noun edit

first (plural firsts)

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

References edit

  • first”, in 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'.”

Anagrams edit

Middle English edit

Alternative forms edit

Etymology edit

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

Pronunciation edit

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

Adjective edit


  1. first

Descendants edit

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

References edit