phrase → place You say in the first place when you are talking about the beginning of a situation or about the situation as it was before a series of events. ⇒ What brought you to Washington in the first place? ⇒ The emphasis is swinging away from simply finding cures for illness to ways of preventing illness in the first place. ⇒ I don't think we should have been there in the first place.
COBUILD Advanced English Dictionary. Copyright © Harper Collins Publishers