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first - definition and synonyms

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adverb, number, pronoun, noun     first pronunciation in British English
First can be used in the following ways:
as a number: This is the first car I’ve ever owned.
as a pronoun: It’s often tougher for a team in their second year than their first.
as an adverb: Speak to me first, before you do anything.
as a sentence adverb (making a comment on the whole sentence or clause): First, I want to explain the purpose of this meeting.
as a noun: He got a first from Oxford.That visit was a first for me.
  1. 1
    before any others or before everything else
    1. a.
      coming, happening, or starting before all the others

      He has two daughters from his first marriage and a son from his second.

      Julia got there first, but Susan arrived just a few minutes later.

      I was first in the queue so I think I should be served first.

      the first:

      The lecture is the first in a series that will be presented at the university.

    2. b.
      if you do something first, you do it before you do anything else

      First, let’s go around the room and introduce ourselves.

      Can’t I just finish reading this article first?

    3. c.
      used for introducing the thing that comes before the others in a series or list

      There is a strict procedure you must follow: first make sure the safety catch is on.

    4. d.
      used for referring to a thing or place that you reach before any other when you are going somewhere

      Take the first turning on the right.

      It’s the first house that you come to.

  2. 2
    never done before
    1. a.
      used for referring to something that has never happened before, or has not happened since a particular time

      This will be Kenny’s first trip overseas.

      I first met him in 1980.

      the first:

      The strike is the first in the industry since 1987.

      the first time:

      I remember the first time I went to church.

    2. b.

      the first

      used for referring to someone who does something that no one has ever done before, or that no one has done since a particular time

      Who was the first man on the moon?

      ‘Has anyone else visited you?’ ‘No, you’re the first.’

      the first to do something:

      Hillary and Norgay were the first to climb Everest.

    3. c.

      a first

      something that has never happened before and is therefore important or exciting

      He cooked me a meal, which was a first for him.

  3. 3
    at the beginning of a period of time, a situation, an activity etc

    They borrowed $65 million to cover the first six months of 1993.

    When I first started running, I could do a mile in nine minutes.

    The first few days of our holiday were wonderful.

  4. 4
    more important than anyone or anything else
    1. a.
      used for referring to the main or most important thing

      His first love was music.

      Our first consideration must be the safety of the passengers.

    2. b.
      used for giving an important fact or reason that will be followed by other less important facts

      There are four reasons. First, the company has to make money.

  5. 5
    better than anyone or anything else in a game, competition etc

    Karen has always been first in her class.

    come first:

    Phil Gray came first in the under-12 competition.

    first prize/place:

    Crowe’s book of poems won first prize in last year’s competition.

    Synonyms and related words
  6. 6
    in the UK and Australia, the highest mark for an undergraduate degree from a university
    get a first in something:

    He got a first in maths from Imperial College.

  7. 7
    used for referring to the lowest gear of a car, bicycle etc

    Move down to first gear.

    Now put the car in first.

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