[ furst ]
/ fɜrst /
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Definition of first

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Idioms about first

Origin of first

First recorded before 1000; Middle English; Old English fyr(e)st; cognate with German Fürst “prince”; see fore1, -est1


firstness, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What is a basic definition of first?

First is used to describe something as being original or before anything else, as in time, order, or rank. First can also be used to describe something as happening before something else or as happening for the first time. First is also used as a noun to mean the person or thing that is before all others, as in rank. First has other senses as an adjective, adverb, and noun.

As an adjective, first describes something as being the original, with nothing else coming before it in time or in a series. In regards to importance or rank, first means no other rank is higher or has more authority. A ship captain’s first mate, for example, has the most authority out of all the crew. The opposite of first is last.

  • Real-life examples: A is the first letter in the English alphabet. George Washington was the first president of the United States. Mercury is the first planet from the sun.
  • Used in a sentence: I bought my first car when I was eighteen. 

First is used in this same sense as an adverb to describe something happening before all others in time or coming before all others in rank.

  • Used in a sentence: She answered the question first out of all of the students. 

First is also used in this sense as a noun to refer to something that is before all others of its kind.

  • Used in a sentence: I was the first to make it to the movie theater.

In a similar sense, first is used as an adverb to mean something happens for the first time.

  • Used in a sentence: I first went to Tokyo when I was eight years old. 

First is also used as an adverb to mean something happens before something else.

  • Used in a sentence: Before you borrow your sister’s bike, make sure to ask her first. 

Where does first come from?

The first records of first come from before the year 1000. It ultimately comes from the Old English word fyrest and is related to the German Fürst, meaning “prince.”

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What are some other forms related to first?

  • firstly (adverb)
  • firstness (adjective)

What are some synonyms for first?

What are some words that share a root or word element with first

What are some words that often get used in discussing first?

How is first used in real life?

First is a very common word that means something comes before anything else.




Try using first!

Is first used correctly in the following sentence?

I have never had red velvet cake before, so when I eat some tonight it will be my first time tasting it.

How to use first in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for first

/ (fɜːst) /

adjective (usually prenominal)
See also firsts

Word Origin for first

Old English fyrest; related to Old Saxon furist, Old Norse fyrstr, German Fürst prince, one who is first in rank
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Other Idioms and Phrases with first


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.