1. Preceding all others of a series or kind; the ordinal of one; earliest; as, the first day of a month; the first year of a reign.

2. Foremost; in front of, or in advance of, all others.

3. most eminent or exalted; most excellent; chief; highest; as, Demosthenes was the first orator of Greece. at first blush. See Blush. At first hand, from the first or original source; without the intervention of any agent. "It is the intention of the person to reveal it at first hand, by way of mouth, to yourself." (Dickens) First coat The first year's whole profits of a benefice or spiritual living. The earliest effects or results. "See, Father, what first fruits on earth are sprung From thy implanted grace in man!" (Milton) First mate, an officer in a merchant vessel next in rank to the captain. First name, same as Christian name. See Name, First officer, the watch from eight to twelve at midnight; also, the men on duty during that time. First water, the highest quality or purest luster; said of gems, especially of diamond and pearls.

Synonyms: Primary, primordial, primitive, primeval, pristine, highest, chief, principal, foremost.

Origin: OE. First, furst, AS. Fyrst; akin to Icel. Fyrstr, Sw. & Dan. Forste, OHG. Furist, G. Furst prince; a superlatiye form of E. For, fore. See For, Fore, and cf. Formeer, Foremost.

(01 Mar 1998)

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