Definition of first noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//fɜːst//
    ; NAmE NAmE//fɜːrst//
    Exams and degrees
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  1. 1  the first (pl. the first) the person or thing that comes or happens before all other similar people or things I was the first in my family to go to college. Sheila and Jim were the first to arrive.
  2. 2the first [singular] the earliest The first I heard about the wedding (= the first time I became aware of it) was when I saw it in the local paper. The first I knew of a problem was around 9.30 a.m. last Monday.
  3. 3the first (the first) the most likely I'd be the first to admit (= I will most willingly admit) I might be wrong. The poorest will be the first to suffer. Nurses are often the first to say they feel underappreciated.
  4. 4[countable, usually singular] an important achievement, event, etc., never done or experienced before We went on a cruise, a first for both of us. two historic firsts
  5. 5(also first gear) [uncountable] the lowest gear on a car, bicycle, etc. that you use when you are moving slowly He stuck the car in first and revved.
  6. 6[countable] first (in something) the highest level of university degree at British universities She got a first in maths at Exeter. compare second1, third See related entries: Exams and degrees
  7. Word OriginOld English fyr(e)st; of Germanic origin, related to Old Norse fyrstr and German Fürst ‘prince’, from an Indo-European root shared by Sanskrit prathama, Latin primus, and Greek prōtos.Extra examples As he moved into first the gear-lever knob came off in his hand. He got a first in modern history. It’s very difficult to find first on this car. Put the car into first and pull off slowly. She did Philosophy and English Literature and got a double first. She engaged first gear and pulled off. There was something wrong with the gearbox and I had to drive all the way home in first.Idioms the person or thing with the highest status in a group from the beginning They were attracted to each other from the first. from beginning to end; during the whole time It's a fine performance that commands attention from first to last.
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: first