40 Idioms with First
Many expressions include the word first, often referring to beginnings or initial experiences. Here is a list of idiomatic phrases featuring the word, and their meanings.
1. First aid: medical care for minor injuries such as mild abrasions, cuts, bruises, and burns
2. First among equals: the sentiment that a leader is merely the premier person among his or her colleagues
3. First base: the first step or stage in a process or procedure, from baseball terminology
4. First blood: referring to the rite of passage of a hunter making a first kill
5. (At) first blush: referring to reconsideration of one’s initial thought
6. First call: the right to priority in use of something
7. First cause: the philosophical concept of the original self-created cause of which all other causes are by-products
8. First chair: the lead musician among those playing a particular instrument in an orchestra (such as first violin)
9. First class: the best category of travel accommodations, or the best in terms of performance or quality
10. First come, first served: the principle that the customer who arrives first is given priority
11. First cousin: a son or daughter of one’s aunt or uncle
12. First crack: the earliest chance or opportunity
13. First dance: the tradition of the guests of honor being the first couple on the dance floor to start a ball or other dance event
14. First dibs: see “first call”
15. First down: the first in a series of plays in American football after one team takes possession of the ball from the other team
16. First edition: the initial publication of a book
17. First estate: the clergy as the highest of the three orders of society in the Middle Ages and for some time afterward (the others were the nobility and the common people)
18. First floor: the ground floor (in American English usage) or the second floor (in British English usage)
19. First flush (of success): an initial period of achievement (the term is also used technically to refer to the initial runoff of rainwater after a storm)
20. First glance: a superficial examination or review
21. (At) first hand: with direct experience (as an adjective, firsthand)
22. First impression: the initial evaluation of information or an experience, generally before having time to consider or ponder
23. First lady: the wife of a government’s leader
24. First leg: the first part of a journey
25. First light: the earliest part of day
26. First night: the evening of a premiere performance, or the premiere performance itself
27. (In the) first place: in the beginning, or as an initial consideration
28. (Right of) first refusal: the privilege of being able to accept or reject an offer or proposal before anyone else is given consideration
29. (Love at) first sight: the sentiment of an instant romantic connection
30. (The) first step (is always the hardest): the notion that starting a task is the most difficult part
31. (Cast the) first stone: used to refer to hypocritical behavior akin to
throwing a stone at someone as punishment for a crime when the thrower may be culpable for the same crime or another one
32. First string: the group of athletes who participate from the beginning an athletic competition, as opposed to players who may substitute for first-string teammates at some point; by extension, the best among any group
33. (Don’t) know the first thing about: the model for an expression stating that someone is unacquainted with even the basics of a certain procedure or topic
34. First things first: refers to the importance of considering the relative priority of steps
35. First-timer: someone engaging or participating in some activity the person has not done before
36. First water: the highest quality, especially in gems but also said figuratively of people of high character
37. First world: the developed, industrialized nations
38. (If at) first you don’t succeed (try again): the sentiment that one should persist after initial failure
39. Ladies first: a sentiment that, according to proper etiquette, females should have priority in passing through a doorway or into another area
40. Shoot first (and ask questions later): referring to the supposed wisdom, in a confrontation, of disabling a potential adversary first and then ascertaining whether the person is in fact a foe
Want to improve your English in five minutes a day? Get a subscription and start receiving our writing tips and exercises daily!
Keep learning! Browse the Expressions category, check our popular posts, or choose a related post below:
Stop making those embarrassing mistakes! Subscribe to Daily Writing Tips today!
- You will improve your English in only 5 minutes per day, guaranteed!
- Subscribers get access to our archives with 800+ interactive exercises!
- You'll also get three bonus ebooks completely free!