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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 first order

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

of the first water

Of the best quality; having the utmost skill or value. An allusion to the old system of grading diamonds, the most brilliant of which were deemed "of the first water." She is a lady of the first water—dignified, well spoken, and with unimpeachable integrity. The restaurant is renowned for serving food of the first water.
See also: first, of, water

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. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

of the first water

Fig. of the finest quality. This is a very fine pearl—a pearl of the first water. Tom is of the first water—a true gentleman.
See also: first, of, water
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

of the first water

Of the finest quality, as in That was a play of the first water. This idiom refers to a grading system for diamonds for their color or luster (compared to the shininess of water). The system is no longer used but the term, used figuratively since the early 1800s, has survived it.
See also: first, of, water
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

of the first water

You can use of the first water after a noun to mean that someone is very good at something or is an extreme example of something. Jocelyn had proved herself to be a leader of the first water. He was full of energy, Janet recalled, an eccentric of the first water. Note: The brilliance of a diamond is called its water. Diamonds `of the first water' are of very high quality.
See also: first, of, water
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

of the first order (or magnitude)

used to denote something that is excellent or considerable of its kind.
In astronomy, magnitude is a measure of the degree of brightness of a star. Stars of the first magnitude are the most brilliant.
See also: first, of, order

of the first water

extreme or unsurpassed of kind.
The sense of water referred to in this expression is ‘the quality of brilliance and transparency of a diamond or other gem’: if a diamond or pearl is of the first water it possesses the greatest possible degree of brilliance and transparency. In its transferred use, however, the phrase often refers to someone or something regarded as undesirable, e.g. a bore of the first water .
See also: first, of, water
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

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 ?
Meanwhile, aftershocks were recorded in Batanes on Saturday, exactly a week after the magnitudes 5.4 and 5.9 earthquakes jolted the province, according to Phivolcs.
Headquartered in Austin, Texas, Magnitude is a provider of enterprise information management software that delivers insights on business performance in heterogeneous application and fragmented data environments.
class="MsoNormalFor instance, a magnitude 6.0 earthquake releases approximately 30 times more energy than a magnitude 5.
Powerful earthquakes with magnitude more than five were also recorded at several places like Indonesia (4.9, 5.5, 5), Fiji (4.9, 5.7, 5.7), and Iran (4.8) as well in the past 24 hours.
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.
Advocate Kebonang said on April 8 still in the Central Kgalagadi Game Reserve an earth quake of 4.6 magnitude was reported and that tremors were felt in most parts of the country.
* Aug 24, 2016 -- ITALY -- A 6.2 magnitude quake strikes a cluster of mountain communities 140 km (85 miles) east of Rome in central Italy, killing about 300 people.
With the established vulnerability relationships between source parameter and building damage, if we can estimate the earthquake's magnitude before the high-intensity shaking occurs, the seismic resilience of structures canbe obtained.
Once thought an impossibility, a statewide earthquake could result in 126 percent more property damage, increasing the risks from 1.6 million homes to more than 3.5 million for a magnitude 8.0 or higher earthquake along the fault.
When January 12, 2010 Fatalities 316,000 Magnitude 7.0
Magnitude 6.8 Earthquake Strikes Near Japan's Honshu Island - USGS
The first 4.1 magnitude tremor struck at 12:01 pm (0901 GMT), some 47 kilometres (29 miles) north of the island of Crete, the observatory said.
Several earth tremors with magnitude 4.4-4.6 were recorded last night on the territory of Kazakhstan bordering with Kyrgyzstan.
An earthquake with a 4.3 magnitude on the Richter scale has been registered in Romania's region of Vrancea, some 380 km northeast of Bulgaria's capital Sofia.
It suffers from the three types of man-made seismicity changes identified in [2], namely detection changes, reporting changes, and magnitude shifts, these errors can also be distinguished into systematic and random ones and in 1995 this is comprehensively discussed in [3].