first come, first served

Idioms & Phrases

first come, first served

Those who precede others will have their needs attended to earliest, as in So many people showed up that we may not have enough food to go around, so let it be "first come, first served." The idea is very old, but the first recorded use of this precise phrase was in 1545. Also see early bird catches the worm.

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