\ 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

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 See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Nichols broke barriers in her acting career, becoming one of the first Black woman to play a major role on primetime television as Nyota Uhura in the 1960s Star Trek series. Dave Quinn,, 1 Aug. 2022 One of the earliest motorcycle pioneers was Bessie Stringfield, who made history as the first Black woman to ride solo across the country in 1930. Julius Constantine Motal, NBC News, 25 July 2022 The list also includes two former state treasurers, Joe Suggs of Bloomfield and Denise Nappier, the first Black woman elected as state treasurer in American history. Christopher Keating, Hartford Courant, 24 July 2022 The Supreme Court on Friday took a step that will allow new Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, the first Black woman on the court, to take part in a case that could lead to the end of the use of race in college admissions. Mark Sherman, ajc, 22 July 2022 Instead, she was being honored for her role as a trailblazer as the first Black woman to lead a men’s college basketball team. Globe Staff,, 16 July 2022 President Joe Biden has nominated Oregon Supreme Court Justice Adrienne C. Nelson to serve as a federal judge, which would make Nelson the first Black woman to serve on Oregon’s U.S. District Court. oregonlive, 14 July 2022 Ketanji Brown Jackson’s June 30 swearing-in as the first Black woman on the Supreme Court was historic and inspiring. Keli Goff, The Hollywood Reporter, 13 July 2022 And last week, the Las Vegas Raiders made Sandra Douglass Morgan, the first Black woman to ever serve as president of an NFL franchise. Liz Elting, Forbes, 12 July 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb The Washington Post first reported news of the rebuke. Rhoda Kwan, NBC News, 5 Aug. 2022 The Arizona Republic on Tuesday first reported problems with the pens at polling stations. Robert Anglen, The Arizona Republic, 5 Aug. 2022 Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports first reported on Miller. oregonlive, 3 Aug. 2022 In addition to this lawsuit, the Justice Department has launched an antitrust investigation into whether the Tour has engaged in anticompetitive behavior, The Wall Street Journal first reported. Louise Radnofsky, WSJ, 3 Aug. 2022 The Wall Street Journal first reported the filing in U.S. District Court in San Francisco. Doug Ferguson, ajc, 3 Aug. 2022 The job cuts were first reported by the Wall Street Journal. Brendan Case, Fortune, 3 Aug. 2022 The New York Post first reported Batgirl would be scrapped. Aaron Couch, The Hollywood Reporter, 2 Aug. 2022 The decision, first reported by the New York Post, comes as Warner Bros. Discovery prepared to report quarterly earnings this week. Ryan Faughnder, Los Angeles Times, 2 Aug. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun As International Women’s History Month draws to a close, a historical first might be playing out at Helioterra Wines in Southeast Portland. Michael Alberty | For The Oregonian/oregonlive, oregonlive, 29 Mar. 2022 Bryan Cranston slips into his characters skin-first. Los Angeles Times, 20 Feb. 2022 On the campaign trail, Biden vowed to put a Black woman on the high court, which would be an historic first. Ariane De Vogue And Tierney Sneed, CNN, 26 Jan. 2022 Biden has vowed to fill the vacancy with an African American woman, which would represent a historic first. Alexandra Meeks, CNN, 27 Jan. 2022 New Orleans Pelicans assistant coach Teresa Weatherspoon is drawing out of consideration for the head coach opening with the Phoenix Mercury, The Athletic first reported. Jenna Ortiz, The Arizona Republic, 19 Jan. 2022 The Athletic first reported that Hammon was nearing a deal with the Aces late Thursday. Tom Orsborn, San Antonio Express-News, 31 Dec. 2021 At least eight of these political hopefuls, highlighted below, will have the opportunity to be a historic first. NBC News, 29 Oct. 2021 Gator middle linebacker Ventrell Miller will miss the rest of the season with a torn biceps tendon, The Athletic first reported. Michael Casagrande |, al, 16 Sep. 2021 See More

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.

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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Dictionary Entries Near first



first aid

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Statistics for first

Last Updated

6 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“First.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for first


\ 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.

More from Merriam-Webster on first

Nglish: Translation of first for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of first for Arabic Speakers


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