first ( firsts plural )
1 ord The first thing, person, event, or period of time is the one that happens or comes before all the others of the same kind., (Antonym: last)
She lost 16 pounds in the first month of her diet., ...the first few flakes of snow..., Two years ago Johnson came first in the one hundred metres at Seoul.
First is also a pronoun., pron
The second paragraph startled me even more than the first..., He put me through a series of exercises to improve my car control. The first was to drive on simulated ice.
2 adv If you do something first, you do it before anyone else does, or before you do anything else.
ADV with v, ADV with cl/group
I do not remember who spoke first, but we all expressed the same opinion..., First, tell me what you think of my products..., Routine questions first, if you don't mind.
3 ord When something happens or is done for the first time, it has never happened or been done before.
This is the first time she has experienced disappointment..., It was the first occasion when they had both found it possible to keep a rendezvous.
First is also an adverb., adv ADV with v
Anne and Steve got engaged two years after they had first started going out...
4 n-sing An event that is described as a first has never happened before and is important or exciting.
a N, oft N for n
It is a first for New York. An outdoor exhibition of Fernando Botero's sculpture on Park Avenue.
5 pron The first you hear of something or thefirst you know about it is the time when you first become aware of it.
the PRON that
We heard it on the TV last night<endash>that was the first we heard of it...
6 adv You use first when you are talking about what happens in the early part of an event or experience, in contrast to what happens later.
ADV before v
When he first came home he wouldn't say anything about what he'd been doing.
First is also an ordinal., ord usu poss ORD
She told him that her first reaction was disgust...
7 adv In order to emphasize your determination not to do a particular thing, you can say that rather than do it, you would do something else first.
ADV after v (emphasis)
Marry that fat son of a fat cattle dealer? She would die first!
8 adv You use first when you are about to give the first in a series of items.
ADV with cl/group
Certain guidelines can be given. First, have a heating engineer check the safety of the system.
9 ord The first thing, person, or place in a line is the one that is nearest to you or nearest to the front., (Antonym: last)
Before him, in the first row, sat the President..., First in the queue were two Japanese students.
10 ord You use first to refer to the best or most important thing or person of a particular kind.
The first duty of any government must be to protect the interests of the taxpayers..., Imagine winning the local lottery first prize of £5,000.
11 ord First is used in the title of the job or position of someone who has a higher rank than anyone else with the same basic job title.
...the First Lord of the Admiralty., ...the first mate of a British tanker.
12 n-count In British universities, a first is an honours degree of the highest standard.
oft N in n
...an Oxford Blue who took a First in Constitutional History.
13 You use first of all to introduce the first of a number of things that you want to say.
first of all phrase PHR with cl/group
The cut in the interest rates has not had very much impact in California for two reasons. First of all, banks are still afraid to loan.
14 You use at first when you are talking about what happens in the early stages of an event or experience, or just after something else has happened, in contrast to what happens later.
at first phrase PHR with cl
At first, he seemed surprised by my questions..., I had some difficulty at first recalling why we were there.
15 If you say that someone or something comes first for a particular person, you mean they treat or consider that person or thing as more important than anything else.
come first phrase V inflects
There's no time for boyfriends, my career comes first.
16 If you learn or experience something at first hand, you experience it yourself or learn it directly rather than being told about it by other people.
at first hand phrase PHR after v
He arrived in Natal to see at first hand the effects of the recent heavy fighting.
17 If you say that you do not know the first thing about something, you are emphasizing that you know absolutely nothing about it.
do not know the first thing about sth phrase V inflects (emphasis)
You don't know the first thing about farming.
18 If you put someone or something first, you treat or consider them as more important than anything else.
put sb/sth first phrase V inflects
Somebody has to think for the child and put him first.
19 You say `first things first' when you are talking about something that should be done or dealt with before anything else because it is the most important.
first things first phrase
Let's see if we can't find something to set the mood. First things first; some music.
first and foremost