A Dictionary of the English Language
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First (adjective)

View Scan · View Transcription · from pages 805, 806

View Scan · View Transcription · from pages 805, 806

First. adj. [ꝼıꞃꞅꞇ, Saxon.]

  1. The ordinal of one; that which is in order before any other.

                                Thy air,
    Thou other gold-bound brow, is like the first.
    — A third is like the former.
    Shakespeare's Macbeth.

    In the six hundreth and first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, the waters were dried up from off the earth. Gen. viii. 13.

    Arms and the man I sing, the first who bore
    His course to Latium from the Trojan shore.
    Æn.

  2. Earliest in time.

    The first covenant had also ordinances of divine service. Heb. ix. i.

    I find, quoth Mat, reproof is vain!
    Who first offend, will first complain.
    Prior.

  3. Highest in dignity.

    Three presidents, of whom Daniel was first. Dan.

    First with the dogs, and king among the squires. Spect.

  4. Great; excellent.

                        My first son,
    Where will you go? Take good Cominius
    With thee.
    Shakespeare's Coriolanus.

Sources: Shakespeare's Coriolanus (80) · The Bible - Daniel (6) · Dryden, John (788) · The Bible - Genesis (48) · The Bible - Hebrews (6) · Shakespeare's Macbeth (136) · Prior, Matthew (162) · Spectator (140) · Tickell, Thomas (12)

Attributes: Adjective (426) · Saxon (215)

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Cite this page: Johnson, Samuel. "First (adjective)." A Dictionary of the English Language: A Digital Edition of the 1755 Classic by Samuel Johnson. Edited by Brandi Besalke. Last modified: September 1, 2014. http://johnsonsdictionaryonline.com/?p=21847.


  1. The line attributed to the Spectator under definition 3 is from the poem “To the Supposed Author of the Spectator” by Thomas Tickell.

  2. Brandi on September 1st, 2014 at 8:55 am

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