First-water meaning

The highest degree of quality or purity in diamonds or pearls.
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The foremost rank or quality.

A pianist of the first water.

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The best quality and purest luster.
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The highest quality of gemstones, especially of diamonds and pearls.
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(by extension) Of the highest rank or quality.
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Origin of first-water

  • Probably translation of Arabic mā' water, water luster

    From American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition

  • From Wiktionary