first

adjective
\ ˈfərst \

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

first

adverb

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

first

noun

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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Examples of first in a Sentence

Adjective

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

Adverb

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.

Noun

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

Patterson, 27, is well established as one of the NFL’s most lethal kickoff-return threats, evidenced by the two first-team all-pro selections. Jarrett Bell, USA TODAY, "First-round castoff Cordarrelle Patterson could be Patriots' new secret weapon," 6 June 2018 But his three first-team votes were not enough to garner him first- or second-team recognition. Manny Navarro, miamiherald, "This Heat player was left off All-Defensive team despite stellar season | Miami Herald," 23 May 2018 Alabama's three first-team defensive lineman -- Davis, Buggs and Williams -- combined for 21 tackles and five sacks. Matt Zenitz, AL.com, "Why Alabama is optimistic about its defensive line," 21 Apr. 2018 Wide receivers Davion Davis and Nathan Stewart headline six first-team preseason Southland Conference offensive selections for Sam Houston State, which advanced to last year’s FCS football semifinals for the third time in four years. Richard Dean, Houston Chronicle, "Sam Houston State places 9 on Southland Conference preseason teams," 12 July 2018 Minnesota traded Howard to Seattle for a 2018 second-round choice and the rights to swap the team’s 2019 first-round selections. Percy Allen, The Seattle Times, "Storm’s Natasha Howard proving her point that more minutes equals better stats," 25 June 2018 And his background includes playing two seasons at Indiana State, making the Missouri Valley first team at second base as a senior, after two years at Iowa Central Community College. Michael Osipoff, Post-Tribune, "Worth the wait: Visa issues solved, Andy DeJesus finds groove with RailCats," 17 June 2018 Accolades: Selected all-conference, ISCA Class 3A first team all-state. Rick Armstrong, Aurora Beacon-News, "Announcing the 2018 Beacon-News Softball All-Area Team," 16 June 2018 Scott Kingery hit a three-run homer in the first for his first homer since April 10. Matt Breen, Philly.com, "Aaron Nola strikes out 10 and Phillies hold off Rockies," 12 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb

Uber launched an internal investigation after anonymous whistleblowers claimed that Liane Hornsey, the company’s chief people officer, had systematically dismissed allegations of racial discrimination, Reuters first reported. Tory Newmyer, Washington Post, "The Finance 202: Senate rebuke of Trump tariffs won't actually change anything," 12 July 2018 Uber launched an internal investigation after anonymous whistleblowers alleged that Hornsey, the company's chief people officer, had systematically dismissed allegations of racial discrimination, Reuters first reported, which led to her resignation. Hamza Shaban And Jena Mcgregor, latimes.com, "Uber's HR chief resigns, reportedly after discrimination investigation," 11 July 2018 As Chicago media blogger Robert Feder first reported on Monday morning, the Suppelsas moved out of the house on Sunday. Bob Goldsborough, chicagotribune.com, "Retired news anchor Mark Suppelsa sells Evanston home for $1.15 million," 10 July 2018 The Associated Press first reported that recruits were being discharged, and now some are sharing their stories with CBS News. David Begnaud, CBS News, "Immigrant recruit abruptly discharged from Army without explanation," 10 July 2018 The Magic, Hornets and Bulls have agreed to terms on a three-team trade, as was first reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Rob Mahoney, SI.com, "Trade Grades: Charlotte, Chicago and Orlando Complete Pragmatic Three-Team Trade," 8 July 2018 The Boston Herald first reported Rosenberg and Hefner’s filings. Matt Stout, BostonGlobe.com, "Judge overseeing lawsuit against Hefner, Rosenberg steps down," 6 July 2018 Around 100 of Pfizer’s drugs got higher list prices this week, the Financial Times first reported. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, "Pfizer raises prices on 100 drugs—again—despite backlash from public, lawmakers," 3 July 2018 As the Observer first reported last year, growth in San Francisco’s financial sector helped it push Charlotte to No. 3, based on value of loans and other assets held by banks based in the respective cities. Deon Roberts And Hannah Lang, charlotteobserver, "Charlotte's losing 'a little bit of the luster.' Just one bank has its HQ here now.," 2 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

But beneath the glitz, beyond the firsts, Jordan isn’t all that different from Balukoff and Peter Dill, a 63-year-old Emmett organic farmer and attorney who is also seeking the governor’s mantle. Maria L. La Ganga, idahostatesman, "Paulette Jordan claims Democratic victory: 'We won this race by everyone.' | Idaho Statesman," 15 May 2018 Family firsts My father’s first job was as a dishwasher at The Pfister. Kristine M. Kierzek, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Palermo Villa's chief executive grew up in the pizza business," 29 June 2018 USA TODAY Fathi Farah has witnessed all of his daughter, Sarah’s, firsts through a screen. Caitlin Mcglade, The Courier-Journal, "Refugees feel sting of Supreme Court ruling to keep Trump's travel ban," 27 June 2018 Meghan Markle has had a number of royal firsts lately. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "See Meghan Markle and Queen Elizabeth Depart from the Royal Train," 14 June 2018 Here are five memorable innovations from the broadcast: First for women at Indianapolis Three women have accomplished firsts during ABC’s coverage of the Indianapolis 500. Zach Horrall, Indianapolis Star, "The Indy 500 on ABC: The top moments in the network’s 54-year run," 26 May 2018 Democrats are running candidates with fascinating biographies A number of Dems are making firsts. Nbc News Political Unit, NBC News, "Five things we learned from Tuesday's contests," 23 May 2018 Below is a smattering of great MLB firsts from some legends, some busts, and some middling players forgotten to time. 1. Si.com Staff, SI.com, "The Greatest Debuts and First Hits in MLB History After Juan Soto's Unforgettable Moment," 22 May 2018 And the new duchess made some noticeable firsts for her first outing as a royal. Sophie Dodd, PEOPLE.com, "Meghan Markle Is Following the Royal Pantyhose Protocol for the First Time!," 22 May 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

Adjective

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

Adverb

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

Noun

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for first

Adjective

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

Adverb

see first entry 1

Noun

see first entry 1

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Statistics for first

Last Updated

21 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for first

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

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More Definitions for first

first

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of first

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: 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

first

adverb

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

: before any other in time, order, or importance

: for the first time

: before doing other things

first

adjective
\ ˈfərst \

Kids Definition of first

 (Entry 1 of 3)

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

first

adverb

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.

first

noun

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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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).

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