Definition of “first” - English Dictionary

“first” in British English

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firstordinal number, determiner

uk /ˈfɜːst/ us /ˈfɝːst/

A1 (a person or thing) coming before all others in order, time, amount, quality, or importance:

This is my first visit to New York.
I fell in love with him the first time I saw him.
I'm always nervous for the first few minutes of an exam.
Today is the first (of August).
in the first place

B2 in or at the beginning (of a series of events):

The trousers shrank when I washed them, but they weren't really big enough in the first place.
Thankfully, he wasn't hurt, but he never should have been there in the first place.
in the first instance UK

as the first attempt or effort:

Enquiries about the post should be addressed in the first instance to the personnel manager.
first thing

at the earliest time in the day:

He said he'd call back first thing tomorrow.

More examples

firstadverb

uk /ˈfɜːst/ us /ˈfɝːst/

A1 before all others in order, time, amount, quality, or importance:

Tom came first in the race.
Who finished first?
If you get home first, can you feed the cat?

B1 for the first time:

When did you first meet each other?
The company was still very small when I first joined.

A2 also firstly used at the beginning of a list of things you want to say or write:

First, I want to thank my parents.
First (of all) (= before anything else), I'd like to ask you a few questions.
First off (= before anything else), let me introduce myself.

firstnoun

uk /ˈfɜːst/ us /ˈfɝːst/

first noun (THING/PERSON)

B1 [ S ] the first person or thing to do or be something, or the first person or thing mentioned:

[ + to infinitive ] She was one of the first to arrive.
He is the first (= very willing) to admit that much of his success is due to his good looks.
Tonight sees the first of three documentaries about cancer.
from the (very) first

from the beginning:

I've opposed the proposal from the very first.

first noun (NEVER BEFORE)

C2 [ S ] something that has never happened or been done before:

This new surgical technique is a first for (= has never been done before in) the hospital.

first noun (QUALIFICATION)

[ C ] UK also first-class degree the best possible undergraduate university degree you can get in the UK and some other countries:

She has a first in English from Newcastle University.

first noun (VEHICLE)

[ U ] also first gear (in a vehicle) the gear used when starting to drive forward or when driving up a steep hill

first noun (BASEBALL)

(Definition of “first” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

“first” in American English

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firstadjective, adverb, noun [ C ]

us /fɜrst/

(a person or thing) coming before all others in order, time, amount, quality, or importance:

Would you like to go first?
[ C ] We leave on the first of August.
At first (= In the beginning) I thought he was joking, but then I realized he meant it.

First also means first base

(Definition of “first” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)