\ ˈfərst How to pronounce first (audio) \

Definition of first

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: preceding all others in time, order, or importance: such as
a : earliest She won first prize. his first girlfriend
b : being the lowest forward gear or speed of a motor vehicle couldn't get the car out of first gear
c : having the highest or most prominent part among a group of similar voices or instruments first violins



Definition of first (Entry 2 of 3)

1a : before another in time, space, or importance
b : in the first place often used with of all
c : for the first time
2 : in preference to something else : sooner



Definition of first (Entry 3 of 3)

1 : one that is number one in a series — see Table of Numbers
2 : something that is first: such as
a : the first occurrence or item of a kind
b : the first forward gear or speed of a motor vehicle
c : the highest or chief voice or instrument of a group
d : an article of commerce of the finest grade
e : the winning or highest place in a competition, examination, or contest
at first
: at the beginning : initially

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Synonyms & Antonyms for first

Synonyms: Adjective

earliest, foremost, headmost, inaugural, initial, leadoff, maiden, original, pioneer, premier, virgin

Synonyms: Adverb

instead, rather

Antonyms: Adjective

final, last, latest, latter, terminal, terminating, ultimate

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Examples of first in a Sentence


We sat in the first row. She succeeded on her first attempt. I still remember the first time I saw her.


I have to pay him first. These problems are not as simple as they first appear. I loved her when I first saw her. This word was first recorded in the 19th century. We'll get started soon, but first we have to make sure everyone is here.


Her solo flight across the Atlantic was a remarkable first. They were responsible for several engineering firsts. I couldn't get the car out of first. take a first in English
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera left after being hit on the right hand by a pitch from Sanchez to begin the sixth. Ian Harrison, The Seattle Times, "Sanchez, Blue Jays pitch 2nd shutout in row, top Tigers 3-0," 30 Mar. 2019 The Mariners’ 2017 first-round pick, White is Baseball America’s No. 100 overall prospect going into 2019. Ryan Divish, The Seattle Times, "Names to watch: Breaking down the Mariners’ Top 15 prospects for 2019," 27 Mar. 2019 In the last 20 years, only 20% of first-round offensive linemen have played on the interior. Andrew Beaton, WSJ, "The Modern NFL Is Moving Beyond the ‘Blind Side’ to a New Guard," 13 Dec. 2018 For her first public appearance post-diagnosis, the actress attended the Vanity Fair Oscars Party in a Ralph and Russo dress. Ariel Henley, Allure, "How Fashion Lets Me Embrace the Physical Differences Caused by Crouzon Syndrome," 12 Mar. 2019 Abramson, who was also the Times’ first Washington, D.C., bureau chief and managing editor, misses working in a newsroom. Nicole Brodeur, The Seattle Times, "Jill Abramson is dealing with every journalist’s biggest nightmare," 20 Feb. 2019 The church, which avoids denominational, cultural, economic, or racial distinctions, according to the website, held its first service at Magnolia in March. Megan Stein, Country Living, "Chip and Joanna Gaines Surprise Guests During First Church Services at Magnolia Market," 5 Mar. 2019 Hamels has allowed 18 first-inning runs this season. Stefan Stevenson, star-telegram, "Quick work: Tigers knock Cole Hamels out in 1st inning," 7 July 2018 Eastern senior Jesse Barbera settled down after allowing the two first-inning runs and went the maximum three innings. Marc Narducci,, "Olympic-Colonial wins sixth Carpenter Cup," 24 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb

Some conservatives have pointed to Kethledge as a potential justice in the mold of Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s first Supreme Court nominee last year. Catherine Lucey, Ken Thomas, Time, "Vice President Mike Pence Met With Supreme Court Contenders," 5 July 2018 Five years after Colorado first legalized marijuana, a new study shows pot’s bad effects are sending more people to the emergency room. Carla K. Johnson, The Seattle Times, "Marijuana ER visits climb in Denver hospital study," 26 Mar. 2019 William first noted his support of the project at this year's Davos forum, interviewing Attenborough onstage about the new project and the broadcaster's lifelong dedication to environmentalism. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "David Attenborough's Our Planet: What We Know About the New Netflix Show," 25 Mar. 2019 But Qualcomm’s first Snapdragon processor with integrated 5G support won’t appear in phones until 2020, either. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "Qualcomm's next Snapdragon chip suggests 2020 really will be the year of 5G phones," 25 Feb. 2019 The interview is Kelly’s first candid account of his tenure — and first attempt to write his legacy. Amanda Sakuma, Vox, "John Kelly’s exit interview lifts the curtain on the chaos within the Trump White House," 30 Dec. 2018 Those were Musk’s first public comments on the topic since the news of Khashoggi’s killing emerged. Theodore Schleifer, Recode, "Elon Musk says he ‘probably’ wouldn’t take money from the Saudis now," 2 Nov. 2018 Like Trump’s first Supreme Court selection, Justice Neil Gorsuch, Kavanaugh is a former law clerk for Kennedy. Author: Greg Stohr And Andrew Harris, Anchorage Daily News, "Trump’s Supreme Court nominee is a Washington insider and regulation skeptic," 10 July 2018 Brewers first baseman Jesus Aguilar, Giants first baseman Brandon Belt, Cardinals infielder Matt Carpenter and Dodgers infielder Max Muncy also are in the mix. Jay Cohen,, "Mike Trout leads stellar AL outfield for All-Star Game," 9 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Camila Cabello and Shawn Mendes both had a pretty exciting night on Sunday filled with a lot of firsts. Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, "Camila Cabello Tells Shawn Mendes “I’ll Love You Forever” In Emotional Post-Grammys Instagram," 12 Feb. 2019 Houston Methodist Hospital is about to close operating rooms that were the site of some of the world’s firsts in heart surgery. Todd Ackerman, Houston Chronicle, "Historic Houston ORs closing at Methodist," 8 July 2018 Other firsts were Oceania Cruises' Riviera for midsize, Viking Sea for small to midsize and Silversea Cruises' Silver Galapagos for small ships. Phil Marty,, "Backpack across Michigan's Isle Royale, get a taste of Southeast Asia and more," 8 Mar. 2018 Eric McCandlessGetty Images The Bachelor season 23 had a bunch of firsts. Katherine J. Igoe, Marie Claire, "Is Colton Underwood Engaged After 'The Bachelor' Finale?," 4 Mar. 2019 Soto got two firsts and 89 points, and Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Walker Buehler was next with one first and 28 points. Jim Armstrong, The Seattle Times, "Acuna honored to be named National League Rookie of the Year," 13 Nov. 2018 There are two world premieres, three American firsts and contributions from artists including the pianist Simon Trpceski, the tenor Nicholas Phan and the Kronos Quartet. David Allen, New York Times, "15 Classical Music Festivals to See This Summer," 17 May 2018 Spend those two firsts and two seconds on building the roster around him. Andy Benoit,, "Patriots Draft: The Case for Taking a QB, and the Case Against It," 11 Apr. 2018 Iconic super-trio Swedish House Mafia has a remarkable history; one that's filled with triumphant firsts and game-changing moves that have not only inspired future generations of producers, but paved the way for countless dance artists to come. David Rishty, Billboard, "The History of Swedish House Mafia: A Timeline," 30 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'first.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of first


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for first

Adjective, Adverb, and Noun

Middle English, from Old English fyrst; akin to Old High German furist first, Old English faran to go — more at fare

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Statistics for first

Last Updated

20 Apr 2019

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Time Traveler for first

The first known use of first was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for first



English Language Learners Definition of first

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: coming before all others in time, order, or importance
used to refer to the lowest forward gear or speed of a vehicle
: having or playing the main part in a group of instruments



English Language Learners Definition of first (Entry 2 of 3)

: before any other in time, order, or importance
: for the first time
: before doing other things



English Language Learners Definition of first (Entry 3 of 3)

: an occurrence, achievement, etc., that happens or exists before any other of that kind
: the position of the winner in a competition or contest
: the lowest forward gear or speed of a car, truck, etc.


\ ˈfərst How to pronounce first (audio) \

Kids Definition of first

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: coming before all others in time, order, or importance first prize first base



Kids Definition of first (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : before any other I reached the goal first.
2 : for the first time We first met at a party.



Kids Definition of first (Entry 3 of 3)

1 : number one in a series
2 : something or someone that comes before all others Her perfect score was a first for the school.
3 : the winning place in a competition
at first
: in the beginning I hated dance lessons at first.

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More from Merriam-Webster on first

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with first

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for first

Spanish Central: Translation of first

Nglish: Translation of first for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of first for Arabic Speakers

Comments on first

What made you want to look up first? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


having no equal

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