first water

noun
1.
(formerly) the highest degree of fineness in a diamond or other precious stone. Compare water ( def 13 ).
2.
the finest quality; highest rank.

Origin:
1745–55

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World English Dictionary
first water
 
n
1.  the finest quality of diamond or other precious stone
2.  the highest grade or best quality
3.  the most extreme kind: a fool of the first water

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Example sentences
The permits are the plant's first water quality operating permits.
The wine region's first water came from an ancient aquifer.
When a twenty-first water molecule joins the cage, however, the structure
  becomes unstable.
Seven feet lower, and the first water shortage ever would have been declared in
  the river's lower basin.
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