first and last


being before all others with respect to time, order, rank, importance, etc., used as the ordinal number of one: the first edition; the first vice president.
Music. highest or chief among several voices or instruments of the same class: first alto; first horn.
Automotive. low ( def 31 ).
(often initial capital letter) being a member of the household or an intimate acquaintance of the president of the U.S. or of the governor of a state: the First Lady; Checkers, the first dog.
before all others or anything else in time, order, rank, etc.
before some other thing, event, etc.: If you're going, phone first.
for the first time: She first visited Atlanta in 1980.
in preference to something else; rather; sooner: I'd die first.
in the first place; firstly.
the person or thing that is first in time, order, rank, etc.
the beginning.
the first part; first member of a series.
the voice or instrument that takes the highest or chief part in its class, especially in an orchestra or chorus.
a leader of a part or group of performers.
Automotive. low gear; first gear: She shifted into first and drove off.
the winning position or rank in a race or other competition.
Baseball. first base.
Usually, firsts. Commerce.
a product or goods of the first or highest quality.
goods produced according to specifications, without visible flaws.
Compare second1 ( def 23 ), third ( def 12 ).
British University.
first-class honors. Compare class ( def 18 ).
a person who has won such honors.
first and last, everything considered; above all else; altogether: First and last, it is important to know oneself.
first off, Informal. at the outset; immediately: He wanted to know first off why he hadn't been notified.
first thing, before anything else; at once; promptly: I'll call you first thing when I arrive.

before 1000; Middle English; Old English fyr(e)st (see fore1, -est); cognate with German Fürst prince

firstness, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
first (fɜːst)
1.  a.  coming before all others; earliest, best, or foremost
 b.  (as noun): I was the first to arrive
2.  preceding all others in numbering or counting order; the ordinal number of one. Often written: 1st
3.  rated, graded, or ranked above all other levels
4.  denoting the lowest forward ratio of a gearbox in a motor vehicle
5.  music
 a.  denoting the highest part assigned to one of the voice parts in a chorus or one of the sections of an orchestra: first soprano; the first violins
 b.  denoting the principal player in a specific orchestral section: he plays first horn
6.  first thing as the first action of the day: I'll see you first thing tomorrow
7.  first things first things must be done in order of priority
8.  (in negative constructions) the first thing even one thing: he doesn't know the first thing about me
9.  the beginning; outset: I knew you were a rogue from the first; I couldn't see at first because of the mist
10.  chiefly (Brit) education Full term: first-class honours degree an honours degree of the highest class
11.  something which has not occurred before: a first for the company
12.  the lowest forward ratio of a gearbox in a motor vehicle; low gear
13.  music
 a.  the highest part in a particular section of a chorus or orchestra
 b.  the instrument or voice taking such a part
 c.  the chief or leading player in a section of an orchestra; principal
14.  music a rare word for prime
15.  before anything else in order, time, preference, importance, etc: do this first; first, remove the head and tail of the fish
16.  first and last on the whole; overall
17.  from first to last throughout
18.  for the first time: I've loved you since I first saw you
19.  (sentence modifier) in the first place or beginning of a series of actions: first I want to talk about criminality
[Old English fyrest; related to Old Saxon furist, Old Norse fyrstr, German Fürst prince, one who is first in rank]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

O.E. fyrst "foremost," superlative of fore; from P.Gmc. *furisto (cf. O.H.G. furist, O.N. fyrstr, Dan. første, O.Fris. fersta, M.Du. vorste "first," Ger. Fürst "prince"), superlative of *fur-/*for-, from PIE *pro- (cf. Skt. pura "before, formerly;" see
pro-). First-class (1858) "is from the universities via the railways" [Weekley]; first-rate (1660s) is from classes of warships in the British navy. First aid is that given at the scene, pending the arrival of a doctor; firsthand (also first-hand, first hand) is attested from 1690s. First Lady as an informal title for the wife of a U.S. president was in use by 1908, short for First lady of the land.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

first (fûrst)

  1. Coming before all others in order or location.

  2. Occurring or acting before all others in time; earliest.

  3. Being the innermost digit, especially on a foot.

first n.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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American Heritage
Abbreviations & Acronyms
Foundation for Ichthyosis and Related Skin Types
The American Heritage® Abbreviations Dictionary, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

first and last

Under all circumstances, always, as in She was an artist first and last. (For a synonym, see above all.) This expression, first recorded in 1589, should not be confused with the similar-sounding from first to last, which means "from start to finish" or "throughout," as in We cheered them on from first to last.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Idioms & Phrases
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