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

In a trade that was all about the money, the Nets acquired forwards Kenneth Faried and Darrell Arthur — two players in the final years of their contracts — along with a 2019 first-round pick and a second-round pick in 2020 from the Nuggets. BostonGlobe.com, "Knee surgery scheduled for Lonzo Ball," 14 July 2018 Both John Ross and Tyler Boyd, the Bengals’ 2017 first-round and 2016 second-round draft picks, respectively, flopped under Urban’s watch last season. Katherine Fominykh, baltimoresun.com, "After mentoring Michael Vick, new Ravens quarterbacks coach James Urban getting Lamar Jackson up to speed," 13 July 2018 For most tennis fans, Isner is thought of as the guy who was the survivor of the longest match in tennis history, which took place in the 2010 Wimbledon first round. Sandra Harwitt, USA TODAY, "While not always popular among fans, John Isner has aced his way to Wimbledon semis," 12 July 2018 The Smith-for-Kirk Cousins swap, along with Doctson finally being healthy during the offseason, should lead to a big year for the 2016 first-round pick. Steven Ruiz, For The Win, "10 fantasy football sleepers we're irrationally excited about in 2018," 10 July 2018 Jackson, the Memphis Grizzlies' first-round pick (fourth overall), struggled against the length of Bamba and second-year Magic forward Jonathan Isaac in the Magic’s 86-56 victory. Vince Ellis, Detroit Free Press, "Jaren Jackson Jr.'s weary Sunday caps fabulous NBA Summer League week," 9 July 2018 Now, the two second-round draft picks are almost afterthoughts because the Clippers brought in their backcourt of the future, 2018 first-round picks Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jerome Robinson. Broderick Turner, latimes.com, "Facing a logjam, Clippers guards Thornwell and Evans ready to compete for spots," 9 July 2018 When Holiday would pass to Leaf on his pop to the arc, last year's first-round pick doesn’t look sure of himself shooting. J. Michael, Indianapolis Star, "If former first-round pick T.J. Leaf is going to crack Pacers lineup, he's got to pick it up," 8 July 2018 The Phoenix Suns selected him 16th and immediately shipped him and the Miami Heat’s 2021 first-round pick to the Sixers for Mikal Bridges. Keith Pompey, Philly.com, "Patience remains key in Sixers' guard Zhaire Smith's growth," 7 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb

The meeting between Stone and a man who identified himself as Henry Greenberg was described in a pair of letters sent Friday to the House Intelligence Committee and first reported by The Washington Post. Time, "President Trump Ally Roger Stone Reveals Undisclosed Meeting With a Russian National," 19 June 2018 Joanna first revealed the book's concept on Instagram last summer. Jessica Leigh Mattern, Country Living, "Joanna Gaines Just Revealed Everything We've Been Dying to Know About Her New Design Book," 12 June 2018 One of those times was in July 2017, when Trump first announced his plans to reinstate a ban of transgender people from serving in the military. Emma Sarran Webster, Teen Vogue, "Brandon Studler Discusses Life as the Only Openly Transgender Person Working on Capitol Hill," 29 June 2018 Known for its stout, a near-ubiquitous presence on tap at bars around the world, Guinness first announced plans for the brewery in early 2017. Wesley Case, baltimoresun.com, "Guinness' first U.S. brewery, to open in Baltimore County in August, to spur economic benefits across region," 28 June 2018 The pair had a successful collaboration at first, and Spider-Man first appeared in August 1962's Amazing Fantsy No. CBS News, "Steve Ditko, artist who co-created Spider-Man, dead at 90," 6 July 2018 Lomi Kriel of the Houston Chronicle first reported last fall that families were being separated by Border Patrol after arriving in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas. Dara Lind, Vox, "The Trump administration’s separation of families at the border, explained," 11 June 2018 The Coast Guard first reported the pipeline was the Tennessee Gas Pipeline, but a spokesperson confirmed June 4, 2018, the company does not own the pipeline that tripped up the boaters at the Southwest Pass. Mike Scott, NOLA.com, "Two men plucked from disabled boat near Southwest Pass," 2 June 2018 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Many of the women who will be on ballots in November have the potential to achieve historic firsts if elected. James Hohmann, Washington Post, "The Daily 202: Trump is losing the debate over splitting up immigrant families," 15 June 2018 Took three firsts and a second (his only loss of the year) at last Saturday’s Mark Carpenter Invitational. Wright Wilson, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Free Press Sports Awards: Meet the boys and girls track and field finalists," 9 May 2018 Hope knew something about firsts—she had been elected the first female town supervisor of East Hampton, New York, and then the first female chairwoman of the state Democratic Party. Nina Burleigh, Newsweek, "Meet Hillary Clinton's Inner Circle, the Queenmakers Who Won't Rest Until She's President," 16 Aug. 2016 The night is all about firsts: first kisses, first children, first jobs and more. Yoshina Okamoto, Anchorage Daily News, "Coming up: Spenard Prom, the return of The Moth and Squirrel Nut Zippers," 14 Oct. 2014 McCoughtry doesn’t have a lot of firsts left — except one. Katherine Fominykh, baltimoresun.com, "A new role for Baltimore native, Atlanta Dream star Angel McCoughtry with same old goal," 11 July 2018 Many firsts have been claimed by or on behalf of Nippon. New York Times, "The Restaurant That Became Japan’s Unofficial Ambassador," 3 July 2018 There were a lot of firsts to come out of Philly, including me, Will Smith [and DJ Jazzy Jeff], who was the first hip-hop artist to win a Grammy. Brandon T. Harden, Philly.com, "After leaving WRNB 100.3, Lady B is praised in documentary about her legendary career," 14 June 2018 There was a Kate for every occasion, and many of those occasions were the kind of memorable firsts that stick with you throughout a lifetime. refinery29.com, "What Kate Spade – The Woman, The Bag & The Brand – Meant To Women," 5 June 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

5 Oct 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

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