- the voice or instrument that takes the highest or chief part in its class, especially in an orchestra or chorus.
- a leader of a part or group of performers.
- a product or goods of the first or highest quality.
- goods produced according to specifications, without visible flaws.
- first-class honors.Compare class(def 18).
- a person who has won such honors.
- firn line,
- first aid,
- first amendment,
- first and foremost,
- first and last,
- first axiom of countability
Origin of first
adjective (usually prenominal)
- coming before all others; earliest, best, or foremost
- (as noun)I was the first to arrive
- denoting the highest part assigned to one of the voice parts in a chorus or one of the sections of an orchestrafirst soprano; the first violins
- denoting the principal player in a specific orchestral sectionhe plays first horn
- the highest part in a particular section of a chorus or orchestra
- the instrument or voice taking such a part
- the chief or leading player in a section of an orchestra; principal
Word Origin for first
Old English fyrst "foremost," superlative of fore; from Proto-Germanic *furisto- (cf. Old Saxon fuirst "first," Old High German furist, Old Norse fyrstr, Danish første, Old Frisian ferist, Middle Dutch vorste "prince," Dutch vorst "first," German Fürst "prince"), superlative of *fur-/*for-, from PIE root *per- (1) "forward, through" (see per).
First-class (adj.) is from 1837; first-rate (1660s) is from classes of warships in the British navy. First aid is that given at the scene, pending the arrival of a doctor.
First Lady as an informal title for the wife of a U.S. president was in use by 1908, short for First lady of the land (by 1863 with reference to the president's wife). First name is attested from mid-13c.; first-born is from mid-14c. First base "a start" (1938) is a figurative use from the game of baseball.
first and last
Under all circumstances, always, as in She was an artist first and last. (For a synonym, see above all.) This expression, first recorded in 1589, should not be confused with the similar-sounding from first to last, which means “from start to finish” or “throughout,” as in We cheered them on from first to last.
In addition to the idioms beginning with first
- first and foremost
- first and last
- first blush
- first come, first served
- first cousin
- first hand
- first of all
- first off
- first thing
- first things first
- at first
- at first blush
- at first hand
- cast the first stone
- get to first base
- if at first you don't succeed
- in the first place
- in the (first) flush of
- love at first sight
- not know beans (the first thing)
- of the first water
- on a first-name basis