the first water

the best grade or quality


of the first water (of the highest quality) = (von) erster Güte, (von) höchster Güte —— genius of the first water = Genie ersten Ranges



“Pandit Jayanta Bose has been breathing in an atmosphere of musical bliss over the last three generations. He is a singer OF THE FIRST WATER, a Harmonium soloist of rare most merit, a Tabla player par excellence, a poet and above all a gem of a composer"

Culture Desk - The Daily Observer (3rd March 2017)

"Anne-Sophie Mutter: The German-born former prodigy was once known more for her strapless gowns and her glamor, but she has matured into a musical diamond OF THE FIRST WATER.”

Melinda Bargreen - Strings of Success, The Seattle Times (17th January 1999)

Did you

of the first water

- the highest grade or best quality

- the most extreme kind

- the finest quality of diamond or other precious stone

Collins Dictionary


Originating in the early 18th century, the term “first water” is used by the gemstone trade to classify diamonds and other gemstones of the highest quality. A diamond of the first water would be one that is extremely clear and without any visible flaws, allowing light to pass through it freely, making it sparkle and appear more brilliant.

Over time, the phrase began to be used more broadly to describe anything of exceptional quality or purity. For example, a person with exceptional talent or skill in a particular field might be described as being "of the first water."

When diamonds fall short of this perfection, they are said to be of the second or third water.

The comparison of diamonds with water dates back to at least the early 17th century, and Shakespeare alludes to it in Pericles, 1607:

Heavenly jewels which Pericles hath lost,
Begin to part their fringes of bright gold.
The diamonds of a most praisèd water
Doth appear, to make the world twice rich.


- testing the waters = to cautiously try something out to gauge its potential success or feasibility before committing to it fully

- water under the bridge = an issue or event that has passed and should no longer be considered relevant or a source of concern

- keep your head above water = to manage to survive, cope, or stay out of trouble, especially in difficult circumstances

- in hot water = to be in a difficult or troublesome situation, often as a result of one's own action

- pour cold water on something = to discourage or dampen enthusiasm for a plan, idea, or suggestion

- like water off a duck's back = used to describe a situation where criticisms or insults have no effect on a person, who remains unaffected or unconcerned by them

- treading water = to make little or no progress, often in a situation where progress is expected or desired

- still waters run deep = used to suggest that a quiet or calm person may have hidden depths, complexities, or strong emotions

- blood is thicker than water = an expression that emphasizes the importance of family ties and loyalty over other relationships

- a fish out of water = a person who is in an unfamiliar or uncomfortable situation, often where they feel awkward or out of place


- of the highest quality

24-karat, a1, a cut above the rest, a standout, ace, amazeballs, apex, at the cutting/leading edge, awesomesauce, batting a thousand, big league (time, ticket), blue chip (ribbon), bulletproof, cat's meow (pajamas), champion, cherry picked, class act, consummate, corking, cracking, crackerjack, crash-hot, crème de la crème, crowning, dazzling, dynamite, electrifying, exquisite, exalted, eye-popping, fantastic, fantabulous, fantastical, far out, finest, first class (grade, line, rate, string), five star, flagship, flawless, frontline, gee-whizz, gilt edge(d), glittering, golden, grandiose, heart-stopping, heavenly, jaw-dropping, lionised, masterly, of genius, OF THE FIRST WATER, outstanding, phenomenal, quintessential, ripping, royal, singular, solid-gold, spine-tingling, stellar, supreme, topnotch, transcendental, unblemished, unheard-of, unimpeachable, without peer, world-class

SMUGGLE OWAD into an English conversation, say something like:

“Which famous person ‘OF THE FIRST WATER’ would you most like to meet and what question would you ask them?”

HERZLICHEN DANK to all readers helping me keep OWAD alive with single or monthly donations.

Every month, I spend evening and weekend hours with my family researching and writing your daily OWAD. It remains FREE, AD-free, and ALIVE thanks to voluntary donations from appreciative readers.

If you aren’t already, please also consider supporting us - even the equivalent of a single cup of coffee a month will help us cover mailing, site hosting, and maintenance costs. Just head over to DonorBox:

or bank transfer to Paul Smith
IBAN: DE75 7316 0000 0002 5477 40
Please use your email-address as ‘Verwendungszweck’

Thank you,

More Word Quizzes: