\ 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

Synonyms: Adverb

Antonyms: Adjective

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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 Both Jones and Trask received nine first-place mentions from the 22 survey participants with official Heisman votes who work for USA TODAY Network properties. Eddie Timanus, USA TODAY, "Florida's Kyle Trask makes major move in Heisman Watch," 17 Nov. 2020 Harris, the first Black woman to be elected to national office in the United States, is the only Black woman and one of only three Black senators overall in the current U.S. Senate. Stuart Emmrich, Vogue, "The 8 Top Contenders for Kamala Harris’s Senate Seat," 16 Nov. 2020 Defending conference champion Oregon, which was picked third, received seven first-place votes and 241 points. Ben Bolch, Los Angeles Times, "UCLA’s basketball team picked to win Pac-12 in media poll," 12 Nov. 2020 In addition, Towson is predicted to finish fourth in the CAA this season in the preseason poll, including four first-place votes. Baltimore Sun Staff,, "Towson’s Kionna Jeter named CAA’s Preseason Player of the Year for women’s basketball," 12 Nov. 2020 Virginia was picked as the team to beat in the league season with 97 first-place votes. Shannon Russell, The Courier-Journal, "Louisville men's basketball fifth in ACC preseason poll, David Johnson leads second team," 11 Nov. 2020 La Russa led teams to 12 first-place finishes, and six pennants. Allen Kim, CNN, "New Chicago White Sox manager was charged with DUI a day before his hiring was announced," 10 Nov. 2020 Alabama received 55 of a possible 62 first-place votes in the coaches poll. Mike Rodak |, al, "Alabama No. 1 in poll for first time since 2019," 8 Nov. 2020 The Fighting Irish were rewarded for that victory over the Tiger by jumping up to No. 2 and received two first-place votes. Nathan Baird, cleveland, "AP Top 25 football poll: Ohio State stuck at No. 3 as Alabama takes over No. 1 spot," 8 Nov. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb The Washington Post first reported the team's move Wednesday as part of its story about harassment allegations that were levied in 2014 against the foundation's executive director, Gary Edwards. Tom Schad, USA TODAY, "Washington Football Team ends relationship with Daniel Snyder's charitable foundation for Native Americans," 19 Nov. 2020 The controversy about her pay was first reported by the Grant County News. Julia Fair, The Enquirer, "Crittenden city council considers ousting its mayor," 19 Nov. 2020 He, along with Ariza, will be headed to Detroit after the Rockets and Pistons finalize their deal, first reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. oregonlive, "Portland Trail Blazers selected Washington State forward CJ Elleby with 46th pick: NBA Draft," 19 Nov. 2020 The multistate investigation into Apple, which Reuters first reported in July, is part of a wave of probes into the world’s biggest technology providers. NBC News, "Apple, U.S. states reach $113 million settlement on iPhone throttling," 18 Nov. 2020 Raffensperger's phone call with Graham was first reported by The Washington Post. Melissa Quinn, CBS News, "Georgia's secretary of state says Lindsey Graham suggested throwing out certain ballots," 17 Nov. 2020 Irish Illustrated first reported Patterson will need surgery on a left foot injury that occurred in Saturday’s 45-31 win at Boston College. Tyler James, The Indianapolis Star, "Report: Notre Dame center Jarrett Patterson out for season with foot injury," 17 Nov. 2020 Marc Stein of the New York Times first reported the story. Chris Fedor, cleveland, "Andre Drummond opts into contract with Cleveland Cavaliers, sources say," 17 Nov. 2020 The new deal by Shamrock Holdings for Swift’s master recordings, which was first reported by Variety, is believed to be for more than $300 million. Washington Post, "Taylor Swift blasts new sale of her catalogue for benefiting Scooter Braun: ‘It’s a shame’," 17 Nov. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Bids came from in-person and online, where the auction was broadcast for some 200 buyers (a fair first). Pat Stoetzer,, "Lively livestock auction caps ‘different’ Carroll County 4-H & FFA Fair," 8 Aug. 2020 Second baseman Cavan Biggio grabbed it and tried to dive glove-first at the bag, but was edged out by runner Andrew Stevenson. Howard Fendrich, Star Tribune, "4-run 10th for Nats spoils Blue Jays' 'home opener' in DC," 29 July 2020 The Athletic first reported that owners rejected the union proposal. Gabe Lacques, USA TODAY, "MLB rejects union's 114-game proposal, leaving baseball in limbo as other sports gear up for return," 3 June 2020 This comes at a time of many firsts throughout the tropics. Taylor Ward, CNN, "Cyclone Amphan forming in the Bay of Bengal," 15 May 2020 The wave of firsts sworn in to municipal governments across Massachusetts this week won’t necessarily bring a change of course in terms of public policy. Stephanie Ebbert,, "A wave of diversity changes the look of local councils," 7 Jan. 2020 Claudio said that giving Upes a chance to vote at male-only polling stations was one of many referendum firsts. Washington Post, "Regular voting ends as Bougainville considers independence," 4 Dec. 2019 The exhibition also presented two exciting firsts for the Archives of American Art, Kirwin says. Lila Thulin, Smithsonian Magazine, "More Than Forty Years Later, Artists Answer a Still-Relevant Question: ‘What Is Feminist Art?’," 6 Mar. 2020 Call-and-response writing for violins was clarified by having firsts and seconds divided left and right on the stage, as was the norm well into the 20th century. Scott Cantrell, Dallas News, "Wonderfully fresh Beethoven from violinist Midori and the Fort Worth Symphony," 9 Feb. 2020

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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Time Traveler for first

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for first

Last Updated

22 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“First.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Nov. 2020.

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More Definitions for first


How to pronounce first (audio)

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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Comments on first

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