In New York Times (March 22) article titled, “Palmy days for Jerry,” Maureen Dowd interviews former California governor, Jerry Brown who was once the rival of Bill Clinton, and quotes his latest assessment of his old nemesis:

“In retrospect, after we see all the other presidents that came afterwards, certainly, Clinton handled his job with a level of skill that hasn’t been met since.” And could he see his old nemesis Bill, who endorsed Gavin Newsom for governor instead of Brown in 2009, as First Lad?

“Wherever he is, he will fill up the room, that’s for sure,” he replies. “He has a lot of political energy.”


I see “first lady” and "first husband," but I can’t’ find the word, “first lad” in any of CED, OED, and Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

What does “first lad” mean? Is it the same with the first husband, or does it mean a "top-notch person"? Is this a common word?

  • 1
    Definitely uncommon. Probably only a construct within this article.
    – David M
    Mar 23, 2014 at 5:10
  • @Yoichi: In case it's not obvious, note that only Clinton's "Jack the lad" connotations make this (primarily, jocular) usage credible. It could never have been used of, say, Nixon (in the unlikely event that Pat Nixon had been a credible candidate for the highest office). Aug 11, 2014 at 17:37

1 Answer 1


The article asks "What if Hillary Clinton were President of the United States (POTUS)?":

I ask a more mellow Brown how he would feel about a Hillary coronation.

So I think First Lad is a concise way of saying "husband of POTUS," just as First Lady is for "wife of POTUS."

First Lad is shorter than one counterpart to First Lady, "First Gentleman," and less confusing than another possibility, "First Lord." An answer here points out "First Man" could also be a good title.

As a bonus, lad and lady are spelled the same except for the last letter; this similarity may explain why the lad was chosen, since lad (typically used for youths) is not usually associated with lady.

Choosing lad over husband or man in First Lad may also be a reference to Clinton's persona. Bill Clinton's Wikipage says about his campaign for president in 1992,

"[Clinton] finished second to Tsongas in the New Hampshire primary, but after trailing badly in the polls and coming within single digits of winning, the media viewed it as a victory. News outlets labeled him 'The Comeback Kid' for earning a firm second-place finish."

Some sources (including books, book reviews, news articles, and forum posts) describe Clinton as "boyish."

  • 2
    Possible. Though I don't know any writer who could have resisted the temptation to call Bill the "First Laddie" if that was their intent.
    – keshlam
    Mar 23, 2014 at 2:32

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