"First and Only"

Victor Steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Sat Aug 29 15:12:05 UTC 2009

There are over 12 million raw ghits for "first and only"--over 26000 for
"first and only president" alone, e.g.,

"photo of Jefferson Davis, first and only President of the Confederate
States of America"

The sample content demonstrates how this description can be useful and
accurate. This does not mean that it is _always_ useful or accurate. But
I can see how someone may describe "first and only visit" in the context
of a second planned visit that never occurred. And, after that, it's not
much of stretch to extend the use of such language to all exceptional


Bill Palmer wrote:
> In today's NY Times, Leon Hoffman writes "Sigmund Freud arrived in =
> Hoboken, N.J., 100 years ago today on his *first and only* visit to the =
> United States"
> If there is no second time, can there be a first?  Is an ordinal number =
> ordinal, if there is no order?  Why not omit the "first and"?
> Bill Palmer

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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