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of the first magnitude

Of major importance or significance. You have to study Shakespeare because he is a poet of the first magnitude. We need to close the highway immediately—this is an accident of the first magnitude.
See also: first, magnitude, of

of the highest magnitude

Of the greatest importance or significance or to the greatest degree or extent. You have to study Shakespeare because he is a poet of the highest magnitude. We need to close the highway immediately—this is an emergency of the highest magnitude.
See also: high, magnitude, of
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

first magnitude/order/water, of the

The best; of the highest quality. Magnitude refers to the grading of the brightness of stars, the first being the brightest. It has been transferred to other matters since at least the seventeenth century. “Thou liar of the first magnitude,” wrote William Congreve in 1695 (Love for Love, 2.2). Water refers to a system for grading diamonds for their color or luster (the latter being akin to the shininess of water), the best quality again being termed the first. This grading system is no longer used, but the transfer to other matters has survived since the early nineteenth century. Sir Walter Scott’s journal has, “He was a . . . swindler of the first water (1826). Order, which here refers to rank, is probably more often heard today than either of the others. It dates from the nineteenth century. The OED cites “A diplomatist of the first order,” appearing in a journal of 1895. A synonymous term, first rate, originated from the time the Royal Navy’s warships were rated on a scale of one to six, based on their size and the weight of the weapons they carried. By the 1700s this term, along with second-rate, third-rate, and so on, was later transferred to general use, most often as a hyphenated adjective. For example, “He’s definitely a second-rate poet, nowhere near as good as his father.”
See also: first, magnitude, of, order
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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References in periodicals archive ?
At 7:55 a.m., a magnitude 3.4 quake struck 28 kilometers southeast of Itbayat, where Intensity 4 was felt.
On Friday, the earthquake of the same magnitude had hit the state.
The earthquake bulletin said quakes with tectonic origins were also recorded in Batuan town with 2.3 magnitude at 11:43 p.m.
Again, Phivolcs later upgraded the tremor to magnitude 6.
At the Northern Mariana Islands, the 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck at a depth of 33 miles at about 99 miles east-northeast of Anatahan, the agency stated, the ( Pacific Daily News reported.
The bulk of the cluster lay southward, where the dense central population numbered possibly two dozen stars, all of them beyond 12th magnitude. In total, I tallied 50 to 60 suns--hardly epic; still, the glittery package was attractive.
1 - Magnitude 8.3 San Andreas earthquake: Full rupture vs.
where M is magnitude, N is the number of earthquakes of magnitude?= M, a is a constant, and b determines the relative number of earthquakes of different magnitudes.
In the slideshow I explain how the magnitude of an outcome is important when estimating sample size and when interpreting the clinical or practical importance of the outcome.
Despite uncertainties in the precise values of resonance parameters, the theory of how to model neutron resonance reactions is well enough established to allow us to estimate the order of magnitude of these contributions.
At the other end of the scale are the fainter objects, the faintest star we can see with the naked eye in our location is about magnitude 6,although from a dark site I have seen down to Mag 7.
These waves don't typically cause damage to buildings or other structures because of their high frequency and small magnitude, says Allen.
The change was based on the fact that the magnitude of that temblor, which did not cause any deaths, was estimated to be higher than that of the Kobe quake, which left more than 6,400 people dead.
In an interview with PTV-4, Solidum stressed the importance of preparedness against earthquakes, noting that the magnitude 5.9 quake is stronger than the magnitude 3.2 quake reported earlier.
Aside from the magnitude 4.6 aftershock, three other aftershocks were reported in Samar following the initial earthquake with magnitudes ranging from 1.8 to 3.3.