Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English homepage

first

2 adverb
     
first2
1 before anything or anyone else:
Cindy and Joe arrived first.
An extra five points will be given to the team that finishes first.
First of all we'd better make sure we've got everything we need.
2 before doing anything else, or before anything else happens:
I'll join you in a minute but I need to make a phone call first.
3 done for the first time:
The book was first published in 2000.
4 at the beginning of a situation or activity:
When we were first married we lived in Toronto.
We first became friends when we worked together.
5 [sentence adverb] also first of all used before saying the first of several things you want to say [= firstly]:
First, I'd like to thank everyone for coming.
6

first off

informal
a) before doing anything else:
First off I'd like you all to fill in an evaluation sheet.
b) used before saying the first of several things you want to say, especially when you are annoyed:
First off I didn't agree with the comments in your email.
7

first up

British English spoken informal used to introduce the first thing you are going to talk about, or the first thing that is going to happen:
First up is the Blues song 'Mississippi Lad'.
8

put somebody/something first

to consider someone or something as the most important person or thing:
We need to choose energy policies that put the environment first.
Businesses should always put the customer first.
9

come first

a) to be the most important person or thing to someone:
The care and well-being of patients should always come first.
As far as I'm concerned, the children come first.
come first with
Business always came first with Luke.
b) to win a competition
come first in
The choir came first in all sections of the competition.
10

first and foremost

used to emphasize the most important quality, purpose, reason etc:
Dublin is thought of first and foremost for its literary heritage.
11

first and last

used to emphasize that something is the most important thing or quality:
She regarded herself as a teacher first and last, not a writer.
12

first come, first served

used to say that something will be given to the people who ask for it first, when there is not enough for everyone:
Tickets will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.
WORD CHOICE: WORD CHOICE:

first, first of all, firstly, at first
Use first, first of all, or firstly to introduce the first item in a list of two or more points, instructions etc First, make sure the screws are securely fixed in position. Then attach the wire. The plan was not practical, firstly because of the cost, and secondly because local people did not support it. Use first or first of all to say what happens first in a series of actions First I fed the baby. Then I made myself a sandwich. Use at first to say what happened at the beginning of a period of time, when this changed later At first I was nervous, but I soon started to relax.

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