first dibs

first choice


"first dibs" has no idiomatic equivalent in German — close in meaning is "der erste Zugriff" or "die erste Wahl" — implying the idea of getting something before anyone else..



“The higher income countries are grabbing what they can grab. And they’re getting the FIRST DIBS on these vaccines, there’s no question about it”

Eliza Mackintosh — CNN (11th January 2021)

“Londoners will get FIRST DIBS on new homes in an attempt to stop property being snapped up by foreign investors.”

Sadiq Khan - BBC (5th February 2018)

Did you

first dibs
plural noun, mainly North American, informal

- if someone has dibs on something, or if they have first dibs on it, they have the right to have it before anyone else

- choice of (something) before anyone else gets to pick

Collins Dictionary / Merriam-Webster


The word "dibs" originated as a shortened form of the phrase "I dibs it", meaning "I claim it”. So having "first dibs" allows you the first opportunity to lay claim to something desirable before anyone else can.

Around 1915, “dibs” was a U.S. children's word expressing a claim on something, apparently from earlier senses "a portion or share" and "money" (early 19th century, colloquial), and probably a contraction of dibstone "a knuckle-bone or jack in a children's game" (1690s). The game consisted of tossing up small pebbles or the knuckle-bones of a sheep and catching them alternately with the palm and the back of the hand.

Regardless of its exact origin, "dibs" has been used in English since the early 1900s to stake a claim on something desirable. It signals that you assert ownership or rights over something, especially the first pick or priority in choosing. Saying "I've got dibs on that!" informally establishes your right to lay claim on something before anyone else.


1. ace in the hole = a hidden advantage or resource kept secret until it's needed, much like having an unbeatable card hidden in a game of poker.

2. birthright = signifies an inherent right or privilege that one is entitled to from birth, similar to inheriting property or status due to one's lineage.

3. blank check = unlimited authority or permission to do something, as if you have been given a blank check with no specific limits.

4. call the shots = having the authority to make important decisions, as if you're the one calling the shots in a game.

5. carte blanche = similar to a blank check, it implies complete freedom or authority to act as you wish, often in a creative or unrestricted manner.

6. controlling interest = having the majority stake or authority in a company or organization, allowing you to control its decisions and operations.

7. driver's seat = being in control or having the authority to make decisions, similar to being the driver of a vehicle.

8. edge = having a slight advantage or being in a favourable position, often in competition or negotiations.

9. final say = having the ultimate authority to make a decision or determine the outcome, as if it's the final word on the matter.

10. first refusal = this term indicates the right to decline an offer before others have the chance to accept it, often related to purchasing or accepting opportunities.

11. free hand / free rein = having complete freedom and authority to act without restrictions or interference, as if your hand is free to do as you please.

12. front seat = being in a prominent or influential position, much like sitting in the front seat of a vehicle.

13. have a tight grip = signifies having strong control or influence over something, like having a tight grip on a rope.

14. have the upper hand = suggests having an advantage or superior position in a situation, like having the upper hand in a game.

15. hold all the cards = suggests having the advantage or control in a situation, as if you hold all the cards in a card game.

16. hold the reins = have control or authority over something, like holding the reins of a horse to guide it.

17. in the driver's seat = being in control or having the authority to make decisions, similar to being the one driving a vehicle.

18. on the throne = being in a position of power or control, similar to sitting on a throne as a ruler.

19. own the show = having complete control or dominance in a situation, like owning a theatrical performance.

20. wield the sceptre = relates to having the power or authority to rule, similar to a sovereign holding a sceptre.


- for “right of ownership”

administration, authority, authorization, charge, claim, clasp, clutch, command, control, custody, custodianship, direction, dominance, dominion, empire, governance, grasp, guidance, hegemony, holding, influence, jurisdiction, leadership, ownership, possession, power, preeminence, proprietorship, reign, rule, stewardship, supervision, sway, tenure, title

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