\ 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

Harry, New England's first-round pick in the 2019 NFL draft, has battled an ankle injury during the preseason. Jeremy Cluff, azcentral, "New England Patriots place rookie wide receiver N'Keal Harry on IR," 2 Sep. 2019 Gutekunst infused the defense with plenty of talent by using both his two first-round draft picks on defensive players, including Michigan tackle Rashan Gary and Maryland safety Darnell Savage. Carlos Monarrez, Detroit Free Press, "Why the Chicago Bears should be the favorites to win NFC North this year," 2 Sep. 2019 The Cowboys dealt their 2019 first-round pick to Oakland in October for Cooper. Jori Epstein, USA TODAY, "How Cowboys are preparing for Ezekiel Elliott's potential Week 1 absence vs. Giants," 2 Sep. 2019 The flaming out of quarterback Paxton Lynch, the 2016 first-round pick, forced the Broncos to sign Case Keenum ($15 million salary cap hit) last year and trade for Joe Flacco ($18.5 million) this year. Ryan O’halloran, The Denver Post, "Broncos’ John Elway believes emphasizing college experience, character will help fuel turnaround," 1 Sep. 2019 The Dolphins now have four first-round picks and four second-round selections over the next two NFL drafts. Mark Maske,, "Draft-pick haul makes Dolphins early favorites to land Tua Tagovailoa or Justin Herbert," 1 Sep. 2019 The 49ers waived or released 22 players Saturday and the most notable to depart was guard Joshua Garnett, a 2016 first-round pick who was a unanimous All-American at Stanford. Eric Branch,, "Four tight ends? It’s part of the 49ers’ plan to protect George Kittle," 31 Aug. 2019 Regardless, the Bulldogs’ defense lost three first-round picks, including two along the defensive line. Christopher Smith, al, "Week 1 SEC football betting preview," 31 Aug. 2019 The outlet reports she was set to make $58,000 from her first-round performance. Helen Murphy,, "U.S. Open Fines Carla Suárez Navarro $40K After She Retires from Match," 30 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb

Dorian first came ashore Sunday at Elbow Cay in Abaco island at 12:40 p.m., then made a second landfall near Marsh Harbour at 2 p.m. ‘‘Catastrophic conditions’’ were reported in Abaco, with a storm surge of 18-23 feet (5.5-7 meters). Ramón Espinosa,, "Dorian batters Bahamas with record-setting winds," 2 Sep. 2019 She and Hemsworth met in 2009 on the set of Nicholas Sparks’ romantic drama The Last Song, so the now 26-year-old Cyrus would have been around 16-17 when the two first crossed paths. Rachel Yang,, "Miley Cyrus releases emotional breakup song 'Slide Away' after Liam Hemsworth split," 16 Aug. 2019 Not to be out done, Redskins first-round draft pick quarterback Dwyane Haskins threw the pass of the night. Tyler Dragon,, "Cincinnati Bengals beat Washington Redskins 23-13 in NFL Preseason Week 2 game," 15 Aug. 2019 The last playoff win was a 24-6 first-round victory at Sidney Lanier in 2016. Ben Thomas |, al, "Daphne coach Kenny King hopes to return alma mater to title contention in Year 4," 6 Aug. 2019 The game against the Grizzlies will mark the regular-season Heat debut of Butler, as well as the NBA debut of Grizzlies first-round pick Ja Morant. Ira Winderman,, "Heat to open season at home Oct. 23 vs. Grizzlies," 3 Aug. 2019 That, along with an injury suffered by 2016 first-round pick Corey Ray, paved the way to his bump up to San Antonio. Todd Rosiak, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "In midst of 'incredible' minor-league season, Trent Grisham will make Brewers debut Thursday," 31 July 2019 Microsoft first released its Canary and Developer builds of Edge back in April, and the company has spent the past four months working alongside Google to improve Chromium for Windows with more than 1,000 commits to the project. Tom Warren, The Verge, "Microsoft’s Chromium Edge browser moves closer to release with new beta version," 20 Aug. 2019 The video, which The Daily Beast first reported on Monday, shows a group of students at Pacifica High School in Garden Grove, California, the Garden Grove Unified School District confirmed. Madeleine Carlisle, Time, "Video Shows California High School Students Giving Nazi Salute Before Athletics Banquet," 20 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

That much is apparent is what the final cost wound up being, Chicago sent the two firsts to Oakland, along with third- and sixth-rounders, while getting second- and fifth-rounders back with Mack. Albert Breer,, "Texans Sit at the Center of Two Seismic Trades on a Frenzied Saturday in the NFL," 2 Sep. 2019 Other, spicier firsts and superlatives include the SF90 being the first-ever mid-engine Ferrari with all-wheel drive, and its V-8 engine being the most powerful eight-cylinder Ferrari has ever installed in a road car. Alexander Stoklosa, Car and Driver, "The 986-HP Ferrari SF90 Stradale Plug-In Hybrid Yanks Maranello Back Into Hypercar Race," 29 May 2019 In a series of firsts, women were appointed as deputy education minister in 2009, advisers to the king in 2010 and ambassador to the United States in 2019. Alainna Liloia, The Conversation, "Saudi women are fighting for their freedom – and their hard-won victories are growing," 8 Aug. 2019 The Camp Fire, which killed 85 people and destroyed more than 14,000 homes, has generated a few firsts in California and in the country. Scott Wilson, Washington Post, "Secondary burns: Chico, Calif., is in tumult after a fire emptied out neighboring Paradise," 3 Aug. 2019 China’s researchers have racked up a long list of CRISPR firsts in dogs, mice, rats, pigs, and rabbits. Jon Cohen, Science | AAAS, "China’s CRISPR push in animals promises better meat, novel therapies, and pig organs for people," 31 July 2019 Matt Kryger / IndyStar Teens in Indiana Black Expo's Performing Arts Academy have been experiencing a lot of firsts this week. Domenica Bongiovanni, Indianapolis Star, "Indiana Black Expo is moving soon. That means changes for teens at the Summer Celebration.," 19 July 2019 A half-million dollars would be a princely sum, especially by jersey standards, but any firsts in the collectibles world set a different market. Phil Thompson,, "What is Michael Jordan’s 1st Bulls jersey worth to him? It would have to top $15,000," 10 July 2019 All things considered, this is a pretty strong haul, netting two firsts, two swap options and a still-useful player on a less-weighty long-term contract in Paul. Jeremy Woo,, "Trade Grades: Thunder, Rockets Make Out Well in Russell Westbrook-Chris Paul Swap," 11 July 2019

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

7 Sep 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).


authorized for issue (as a bond)

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