American English

Definition of first adverb from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary

     

    first

     adverb
    adverb
    NAmE//fərst//
     
     
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  1. 1 before anyone or anything else; at the beginning “Do you want a drink?” “I'll finish my work first.” First I had to decide what to wear. Who came first in the race (= who won)? She plunged head first into the river to try and save the little boy.
  2. 2for the first time When did you first meet him?
  3. 3used to introduce the first of a list of points you want to make in a speech or piece of writing synonym firstly This method has two advantages: first it is cheaper and second it is quicker. Language Bankprocessdescribing a process This diagram illustrates the process of paper-making. / This diagram shows how paper is made. First/First of all, logs are delivered to a paper mill, where the bark is removed and the wood is cut into small chips. Next/Second, the wood chips are pulped, either using chemicals or in a pulping machine. Pulping breaks down the internal structure of the wood and enables/allows the natural oils to be removed. Once/After the wood has been pulped, the pulp is bleached in order to remove impurities. /…is bleached so that impurities can be removed. The next stage is to feed the pulp into the paper machine, where it is mixed with water and then poured onto a wire conveyor belt. As the pulp travels along the conveyor belt, the water drains away. This causes the solid material to sink to the bottom, forming a layer of paper. At this point the new paper is still wet, so it is passed between large heated rollers, which press out the remaining water and simultaneously dry the paper. / …dry the paper at the same time. The final stage is to wind the paper onto large rolls. /Finally, the paper is wound onto large rolls.
  4. 4used to emphasize that you are determined not to do something She swore that she wouldn't apologize—she'd die first!
  5. Which Word?first (of all) / firstly / at first First (of all) and firstly are used to introduce a series of facts, reasons, opinions, etc:The brochure is divided into two sections, dealing first of all/firstly with basic courses and second/secondly with advanced ones.First (of all) is more common than firstly. At first is used to talk about the situation at the beginning of a period of time, especially when you are comparing it with a different situation at a later period:Maggie had seen him nearly every day at first. Now she saw him much less often. Language Bankfirstordering your points This study has the following aims:first, to investigate how international students in America use humor;second, to examine how jokes can help to establish social relationships; and, third, to explore the role that humor plays in helping overseas students adjust to life in the U.S. Let us begin by identifying some of the popular joke genres in the U.S. Next, let us turn to/Next, let us consider the question of gender differences in the use of humor. Finally/Lastly, let us briefly examine the role of humor in defining a nation's culture.Idioms at or in the beginning I didn't like the job much at first. At first I thought he was shy, but then I discovered he was just not interested in other people. (saying) If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. to be considered more important than anything else In any decision he makes, his family always comes first.
    1. 1with your feet touching the ground before any other part of your body He landed feet first.
    2. 2(humorous) if you leave a place feet first, you are carried out after you are dead You'll have to carry me out feet first!
    first and foremost
     
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    more than anything else He does a little teaching, but first and foremost he's a writer.
    first and last
     
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    in every way that is important; completely She regarded herself, first and last, as a musician.
    first come, first served (saying)
     
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    people will be dealt with, seen, etc. strictly in the order in which they arrive Tickets are available on a first come, first served basis.
      first of all
       
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    1. 1before doing anything else; at the beginning First of all, let me ask you something.
    2. 2as the most important thing The content of any article needs, first of all, to be relevant to the reader. Language Bankprocessdescribing a process This diagram illustrates the process of paper-making. / This diagram shows how paper is made. First/First of all, logs are delivered to a paper mill, where the bark is removed and the wood is cut into small chips. Next/Second, the wood chips are pulped, either using chemicals or in a pulping machine. Pulping breaks down the internal structure of the wood and enables/allows the natural oils to be removed. Once/After the wood has been pulped, the pulp is bleached in order to remove impurities. /…is bleached so that impurities can be removed. The next stage is to feed the pulp into the paper machine, where it is mixed with water and then poured onto a wire conveyor belt. As the pulp travels along the conveyor belt, the water drains away. This causes the solid material to sink to the bottom, forming a layer of paper. At this point the new paper is still wet, so it is passed between large heated rollers, which press out the remaining water and simultaneously dry the paper. / …dry the paper at the same time. The final stage is to wind the paper onto large rolls. /Finally, the paper is wound onto large rolls.
    1. 1moving forward or downward with your head in front of the rest of your body He fell head first down the stairs.
    2. 2without thinking carefully about something before acting She got divorced and rushed head first into another marriage.
    put somebody/something first
     
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    to consider someone or something to be more important than anyone/anything else She always puts her children first.
    safety first (saying)
     
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    safety is the most important thing
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: first