Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The ordinal number matching the number one in a series.
  • n. The one coming, occurring, or ranking before or above all others.
  • n. The beginning; the outset: from the first; at first.
  • n. Music The voice or instrument highest in pitch or carrying the principal part.
  • n. The transmission gear or corresponding gear ratio used to produce the range of lowest drive speeds in a motor vehicle.
  • n. The winning position in a contest: finished the season in first.
  • n. Baseball First base.
  • n. Baseball A first baseman.
  • adj. Corresponding in order to the number one.
  • adj. Coming before all others in order or location: the first house on your left.
  • adj. Occurring or acting before all others in time; earliest: the first day of spring.
  • adj. Ranking above all others, as in importance or quality; foremost: was first in the class.
  • adj. Music Being highest in pitch or carrying the principal part: first trumpet.
  • adj. Of, relating to, or being the transmission gear or corresponding gear ratio used to produce the range of lowest drive speeds in a motor vehicle.
  • adj. Of, related to, or being a member of the U.S. president's household: first daughter Amy Carter.
  • adv. Before or above all others in time, order, rank, or importance: arrived first; forgot to light the oven first.
  • adv. For the first time.
  • adv. Rather; preferably: would die first.
  • adv. In the first place; to begin with. See Usage Note at firstly.
  • idiom off From the start; immediately: Why wasn't I told first off? When I get to work, I have to call my lawyer first thing.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Having no predecessor. The ordinal number corresponding to one.
  • adv. Before anything else; firstly.
  • n. The person or thing in the first position.
  • n. The first gear of an engine.
  • n. Something that has never happened before; a new occurrence.
  • n. first base
  • n. A first-class honours degree.
  • n. A first-edition copy of some publication.
  • n. A fraction of an integer ending in one. Oneth.
  • n. Time; time granted; respite.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Preceding all others of a series or kind; the ordinal of one; earliest
  • adj. Foremost; in front of, or in advance of, all others.
  • adj. Most eminent or exalted; most excellent; chief; highest.
  • adv. Before any other person or thing in time, space, rank, etc.; -- much used in composition with adjectives and participles.
  • n. The upper part of a duet, trio, etc., either vocal or instrumental; -- so called because it generally expresses the air, and has a preëminence in the combined effect.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Being before all others; being the initial unit or aggregate in order of occurrence or arrangement as to time, place, or rank: the ordinal of one.
  • Foremost in time; preceding all others of the kind in order of time: as, Adam was the first man; I was the first guest to arrive.
  • Foremost in place; before all others from the point of view or consideration: as, the first man in a rank or line.
  • Foremost in importance or estimation; before or superior to all others in character, quality, or degree: as, Demosthenes was the first orator of Greece; the part of first villain in a play; wheat of the first grade; specifically, in music, highest or chief among several voices or instruments of the same class: as, first alto; first horn.
  • Synonyms Primary, primordial, original, primitive, pristine, earliest. See comparison under primary.
  • Highest, chief, principal, capital, foremost, leading.
  • n. That which is first; the beginning. or that which makes or constitutes a beginning.
  • n. In music: The voice or instrument that takes the highest or chief part in its class, especially in an orchestra or chorus; a leader of a part or group of performers.
  • n. The interval and concord of the unison or prime. See unison and prime.
  • n. Same as first base (which see, above).
  • n. The highest rank in an examination for honors: as, he got a first in mathematics. See double-first.
  • n. Immediately.
  • Before all others in place or progression, rank, order of time, etc.
  • Hence Sooner; before doing or suffering (that is, so as not to do or suffer) some act or result: as, I will not do it, I will die first.
  • n. Time; time granted; respite: same as frist.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. serving to set in motion
  • adv. the initial time
  • n. the first element in a countable series
  • adj. serving to begin
  • adv. before anything else
  • adv. before another in time, space, or importance
  • adj. highest in pitch or chief among parts or voices or instruments or orchestra sections
  • adj. indicating the beginning unit in a series
  • adj. ranking above all others
  • n. the first or highest in an ordering or series
  • n. the fielding position of the player on a baseball team who is stationed at first of the bases in the infield (counting counterclockwise from home plate)
  • adj. preceding all others in time or space or degree
  • n. an honours degree of the highest class
  • n. the lowest forward gear ratio in the gear box of a motor vehicle; used to start a car moving
  • adv. prominently forward
  • n. the time at which something is supposed to begin

Etymologies

Middle English, from Old English fyrst.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English first, furst, fyrst, from Old English fyrst, fierst, first ("period, space of time, time, respite, truce"), from Proto-Germanic *fristaz, *fristan (“date, appointed time”), from Proto-Indo-European *pres-, *per- (“forward, forth, over, beyond”). Cognate with North Frisian ferst, frest ("period, time"), German Frist ("period, deadline, term"), Swedish frist ("deadline, respite, reprieve, time-limit"), Icelandic frestur ("period"). See also frist. (Wiktionary)

Examples

Comments

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  • I take pleasure in being first to disembark buses, planes, trains and ferries.

    April 30, 2010