Etymology
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first (adj., adv.)

Old English fyrst "foremost, going before all others; chief, principal," also (though rarely) as an adverb, "at first, originally," superlative of fore; from Proto-Germanic *furista- "foremost" (source also of Old Saxon fuirst "first," Old High German furist, Old Norse fyrstr, Danish første, Old Frisian ferist, Middle Dutch vorste "prince," Dutch vorst "first," German Fürst "prince"), from PIE *pre-isto-, superlative of *pre-, from root *per- (1) "forward," hence "in front of, before, first, chief."

The usual Old English superlative word was not fyrst, but forma, which shows more clearly the connection to fore. Forma became Middle English firme "first, earliest," but this has not survived.

First aid is that given at the scene, pending the arrival of a doctor. First lady as an informal title for the wife of a U.S. president was in use by 1908, short for First lady of the land (by 1863 with reference to the president's wife); the earlier title was simply Lady (1841). First name is attested from mid-13c. First base "a start" in any sense (1938) is a figurative use from baseball.

First fruits is from late 14c. as "earliest productions of the soil;" 1590s as "first results" of any activity or endeavor. First love is from 1741 as "one's first experience of romantic love;" 1971 as "one's favorite occupation or pastime." First floor is from 1660s as "story built on or just above the ground" (now U.S.); 1865 as "story built next above the ground."

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estate (n.)

early 13c., "rank, standing, condition," from Anglo-French astat, Old French estat "state, position, condition, health, status, legal estate" (13c., Modern French état), from Latin status "state or condition, position, place; social position of the aristocracy," from PIE root *sta- "to stand, make or be firm."

For the unetymological e-, see e-. Sense of "property" is late 14c., from that of "worldly prosperity;" specific application to "landed property" (usually of large extent) is first recorded in American English 1620s. A native word for this was Middle English ethel (Old English æðel) "ancestral land or estate, patrimony." Meaning "collective assets of a dead person or debtor" is from 1830.

The three estates (in Sweden and Aragon, four) conceived as orders in the body politic date from late 14c. In France, they are the clergy, nobles, and townsmen; in England, originally the clergy, barons, and commons, later Lords Spiritual, Lords Temporal, and commons. For Fourth Estate see four.

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first (n.)

1560s, "that which is first," from first (adj.). Meaning "first day of the month" is by 1590s. In music, "instrument or voice that takes the highest or chief part of its class," 1774. From 1909 as the name of the lowest gear in an engine. In British schools colloquial use, "highest rank in an examination," 1850.

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fourth estate (n.)

"the press," by 1824, and especially from 1831, British English. For the other three, see estate. Earlier the term had been applied in various senses that did not stick, including "the mob" (1752), "the lawyers" (1825). The extension to the press is perhaps an outgrowth of the former.

Hence, through the light of letters and the liberty of the press, public opinion has risen to the rank of a fourth estate in our constitution; in times of quiet and order, silent and still, but in the collisions of the different branches of our government, deciding as an umpire with unbounded authority. ["Memoir of James Currie, M.D.," 1831]
[Newspapers] began to assume some degree of political importance, during the civil wars of the seventeenth century, in England; but it is not until within the last fifty years that they have become, — as they are now justly styled, — a Fourth Estate, exercising a more powerful influence on the public affairs of the countries in which they are permitted to circulate freely, than the other three put together. [Alexander H. Everett, "Address to the Phi Beta Kappa Society of Bowdoin College," 1834]
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first-hand (adj.)

also firsthand, "direct from the source or origin," 1690s, from the image of the "first hand" as the producer or maker of something.

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first-rate (adj.)

"of the highest excellence," 1660s, from first (adj.) + rate (n.) in a specific sense "class of warships in the British Navy." As a mere emphatic statement expressing excellence, by 1812. Colloquially, as a quasi-adverb, 1844.

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first-class (adj.)

"of the highest class" with reference to some standard of excellence, 1837, from first (adj.) + class (n.). Specifically in reference to conveyances for travel, 1846. In reference to U.S. Mail, 1875.

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first-born (adj., n.)

"first in order of birth," as a noun, "first-born child," mid-14c., from first (adj.) + born.

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first-timer (n.)

"rookie, one doing something for the first time," 1888, from first time; see first (adj.) + time (n.).

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badminton (n.)

outdoor game similar to lawn tennis but played with a shuttlecock, 1874, from Badminton House, name of Gloucestershire estate of the Duke of Beaufort, where the game first was played in England, mid-19c., having been picked up by British officers from Indian poona. The place name is Old English Badimyncgtun (972), "estate of (a man called) Baduhelm."

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