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In the first place; to begin with; first.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


coming before other points, questions, etc
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014


(ˈfɜrst li)

in the first place; first.
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.


1. 'first' used as an adjective

The first thing, event, or person of a particular kind is the one that comes before all the others.

She lost 16 pounds in the first month of her diet.
Yuri Gagarin was the first man in space.

If you want to emphasize that a thing, event, or person is the first one of their kind, you can put very in front of first.

The very first thing I do when I get home is have a cup of tea.
2. 'first' used as an adverb

If an event happens before other events, you say that it happens first.

Rani spoke first.
When people get their newspaper, which page do they read first?

Be Careful!
Don't use 'firstly' with this meaning. Don't say, for example, 'Rani spoke firstly'.

3. 'first' and 'firstly' used as sentence adverbials

You can use first or firstly to introduce the first point in a discussion, the first of a series of questions or instructions, or the first item in a list.

First, mix the eggs and flour.
There are two reasons why I'm angry. Firstly you're late, and secondly, you've forgotten your homework.

If you want to emphasize that an item is the first one you are going to mention, you can say first of all.

I have made a commitment, first of all to myself, and secondly to my family.
First of all, I'd like to thank you all for coming.

Be Careful!
Don't say 'firstly of all'.

4. 'at first'

When you are contrasting feelings or actions at the beginning of an event with ones that came later, you say at first.

At first I was reluctant.
At first I thought that the shop was empty, then from behind one of the counters a man appeared.

Be Careful!
Don't use 'firstly' in sentences like these.

Collins COBUILD English Usage © HarperCollins Publishers 1992, 2004, 2011, 2012
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Adv.1.firstly - before anything else; "first we must consider the garter snake"
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.


adverb in the first place, initially, to begin with, to start with, before all else Firstly, vitamin C is needed for hormone production.
Collins Thesaurus of the English Language – Complete and Unabridged 2nd Edition. 2002 © HarperCollins Publishers 1995, 2002
za prvézaprvé
for det første
kao prvo
í fyrsta lagi
po prvé
för det första
trước tiên


[ˈfɜːstlɪ] ADV
1. (= before anything else) → antes que nada, en primer lugar, primero
firstly, we must stop the bleedingantes que nada or en primer lugar or primero tenemos que cortar la hemorragia
2. (= on the first occasion) → primero
we went there firstly as tourists, then bought a house therefuimos allí primero como turistas, luego nos compramos una casa
3. (= in the first place) → en primer lugar
firstly, it's too small and secondly it's too expensiveen primer lugar, es demasiado pequeño y en segundo lugar, es demasiado caro
Collins Spanish Dictionary - Complete and Unabridged 8th Edition 2005 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1971, 1988 © HarperCollins Publishers 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2005


[ˈfɜːrstli] adv
(= first of all) → d'abord, premièrement
Firstly, let's see what the book is about → Voyons d'abord de quoi parle ce livre.
(introducing first of two)premièrement
There are two reasons. Firstly → Il y a deux raisons. Premièrement ...first minister First Minister n (in Scottish parliament) chef du parlement écossaisfirst name nprénom mfirst-name [ˌfɜːrstˈneɪm] modif
to be on first-name terms → s'appeler par son prénom
to be on first-name terms with sb → appeler qn par son prénomfirst night n (THEATRE) [play] → première ffirst offender ndélinquant(e) m/f primairefirst officer nsecond mfirst-past-the-post system nsystème m majoritaire à un tourfirst person n (GRAMMAR)première personne f
in the first person → à la première personnefirst-person [ˌfɜːrstˈpɜːrsən] modif [account, narrative] → à la première personnefirst person plural n (GRAMMAR) the first person plural → la première personne du plurielfirst-rate [ˌfɜːrstˈreɪt] adjexcellent(e)first school n (British)école f primairefirst secretary First Secretary n (Welsh)chef m du gouvernement régional galloisfirst-time buyer n(primo-)accédant m à la propriétéfirst-timer [ˌfɜːrstˈtaɪmər] ndébutant(e) m/fFirst World
the First World → les pays mpl industrialisés
First World countries → pays mpl industrialisésFirst World War
the First World War → la Première Guerre mondiale
modif [general, veteran, battlefield] → de la Première Guerre mondialefirst year
[university course] → première année f
(= student) → étudiant(e) m/f de première année
modif [student] → de première année; [course] → de première annéefir tree nsapin m
Collins English/French Electronic Resource. © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


adv (= in the first place)zuerst; they felt that their duty was firstly to the policesie fühlten sich in erster Linie der Polizei verpflichtet; why can’t I? — well, firstly it’s not yours and secondly …warum denn nicht? — nun, zunächst or erstens einmal gehört es nicht dir und zweitens
Collins German Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged 7th Edition 2005. © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1980 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1997, 1999, 2004, 2005, 2007


[ˈfɜːstlɪ] advprima, innanzitutto, in primo luogo
Collins Italian Dictionary 1st Edition © HarperCollins Publishers 1995


(fəːst) adjective, adverb
before all others in place, time or rank. the first person to arrive; The boy spoke first.
before doing anything else. `Shall we eat now?' `Wash your hands first!
the person, animal etc that does something before any other person, animal etc. the first to arrive.
ˈfirstly adverb
in the first place. I have three reasons for not going – firstly, it's cold, secondly, I'm tired, and thirdly, I don't want to!
first aid adjective (etc) treatment of a wounded or sick person before the doctor's arrival: We should all learn first aid; ()
first-aid treatment.
ˈfirst-born adjective, noun
(one's) oldest (child).
ˌfirst-ˈclass adjective
1. of the best quality. a first-class hotel.
2. very good. This food is first-class!
3. (for) travelling in the best and most expensive part of the train, plane, ship etc. a first-class passenger ticket; (also adverb) She always travels first-class.
ˌfirst-ˈhand adjective, adverb
(of a story, description etc) obtained directly, not through various other people. a first-hand account; I heard the story first-hand.
ˌfirst-ˈrate adjective
of the best quality. She is a first-rate architect.
at first
at the beginning. At first I didn't like him.
at first hand
obtained etc directly. I was able to acquire information at first hand.
first and foremost
first of all.
first of all
to begin with; the most important thing is. First of all, let's clear up the mess; First of all, the scheme is impossible – secondly, we can't afford it.
Kernerman English Multilingual Dictionary © 2006-2013 K Dictionaries Ltd.


أولاً zaprvé for det første zuerst πρώτον en primer lugar, primeramente ensiksikin premièrement kao prvo per prima cosa まず第一に 첫째로 als eerste for det første po pierwsze primeiramente во-первых för det första อันดับแรก öncelikle trước tiên 首先
Multilingual Translator © HarperCollins Publishers 2009
References in classic literature ?
My attention was caught firstly by a bicycle lying carelessly on the turf, and secondly and lastly by a graceful woman's figure, recumbent and evidently sleeping against the turf bank, well tucked in among the afternoon shadows.
In respect of military method, we have, firstly, Measurement; secondly, Estimation of quantity; thirdly, Calculation; fourthly, Balancing of chances; fifthly, Victory.
If my poor Flatland friend retained the vigour of mind which he enjoyed when he began to compose these Memoirs, I should not now need to represent him in this preface, in which he desires, firstly, to return his thanks to his readers and critics in Spaceland, whose appreciation has, with unexpected celerity, required a second edition of his work; secondly, to apologize for certain errors and misprints (for which, however, he is not entirely responsible); and, thirdly, to explain one or two misconceptions.
But the question is again a twofold one: firstly..."
Firstly, it is certainly not later than the beginning of the sixth century, for it makes no mention of Iacchus, and the Dionysiac element was introduced at Eleusis at about that period.
"Speak not of me, thou strange one; thou amiable one!" said Zarathustra, and restrained his affection, "speak to me firstly of thyself!
At last it was conveyed to the carrier's, at whose house at Finchley Kit was to find it next day; and the box being gone, there remained but two questions for consideration: firstly, whether the carrier would lose, or dishonestly feign to lose, the box upon the road; secondly, whether Kit's mother perfectly understood how to take care of herself in the absence of her son.
Either, firstly, that all the several imagined aboriginal stocks were coloured and marked like the rock-pigeon, although no other existing species is thus coloured and marked, so that in each separate breed there might be a tendency to revert to the very same colours and markings.
I have described them at some length; firstly, because their worth demanded it; and secondly, because I mean to take them for a model, and to content myself with saying of others we may come to, whose design and purpose are the same, that in this or that respect they practically fail, or differ.
Firstly, because I couldn't take so much upon myself when I have respected family friends to remember.
And firstly, if it be not entirely new, but is, as it were, a member of a state which, taken collectively, may be called composite, the changes arise chiefly from an inherent difficulty which there is in all new principalities; for men change their rulers willingly, hoping to better themselves, and this hope induces them to take up arms against him who rules: wherein they are deceived, because they afterwards find by experience they have gone from bad to worse.
Firstly, I wish to communicate; secondly, to embrace my children and bid them farewell for the last time.