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Language: Old English
Origin: fyrst

first

1 adjective
     
first1 S1 W1
1

in a series

coming before all the other things or people in a series:
Ella was his first girlfriend.
the first thing/time/day etc
The first time I flew on a plane I was really nervous.
In the first year, all students take five courses.
He said the first thing that came into his head.
the first step towards achieving a peace agreement
There's a meeting on the first Monday of every month.
the first two/three/few etc
I only read the first two chapters of the book.
It rained during the first few days of the trip.
The first and last mountain I climbed was Mount Rundle (=it was the only mountain I ever climbed).
2

for the first time

used to say that something has never happened or been done before:
For the first time in his life he felt truly happy.
The survey revealed that, for the first time, there are more women in the workplace than men.
Not for the first time she wondered how he coped with so many children.
3

main

most important:
Our first priority is to maintain the standard of work.
As I see it, my first responsibility is to my family.
4

in the first place

a) used to talk about the beginning of a situation, or the situation before something happened:
Why did you agree to meet her in the first place?
He wouldn't have given you the job in the first place if he didn't think you could do it.
b) written used to give the first in a list of reasons or points:
Her success was secured by two factors. In the first place, she had the support of managers.
5

in the first instance

formal at the start of a situation or series of actions:
The appointment of research officer will be for two years in the first instance.
Enquiries should be made in the first instance to the Human Resources Director.
6

at first glance/sight

the first time that you look at someone or something, before you notice any details:
At first glance the twins look identical.
At first sight, there didn't appear to be much damage.

➔ love at first sight

at love2 (2)
7

first things first

used to say that something should be done or dealt with first because it is the most important
8

(at) first hand

if you see, experience, hear etc something at first hand, you see, experience etc it yourself, not through other people:
Many people have seen the horrors of war at first hand.
first-hand
9

first prize/place

the prize that is given to the best person or thing in a competition
win/take first prize
She won first prize in a painting competition.
first prize/place of
There is a first prize of £10,000.
10

first choice

the thing or person you like best:
John was our first choice as a name for the baby.
11

first thing

as soon as you get up in the morning, or as soon as you start work:
I'll call you first thing tomorrow.
We're leaving first thing.
12

at first light

literary very early in the morning:
The search will resume at first light tomorrow.
13

make the first move

to be the person who starts to do something when someone else is too nervous, embarrassed etc to do it:
He was glad she had made the first move and kissed him.
14

not have the first idea about something

also not know/understand the first thing about something to not know anything about a subject, or not know how to do something:
I wouldn't have the first idea about what to do in that situation.
I don't know the first thing about cars.
15

the first flush of something

the beginning of a good period of time when you are young, successful etc
be in the first flush of passion/youth etc
He was no longer in the first flush of youth.
The first flush of enthusiasm had passed.
16

job title

used in the title of someone's job or position to show that they have a high rank:
the first officer
the First Lord of the Admiralty
17

first among equals

someone who is officially on the same level as other people but really has more power
18

of the first water

old-fashioned of the highest quality

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