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double take

a rapid or surprised second look, either literal or figurative, at a person or situation whose significance had not been completely grasped at first:
His friends did a double take when they saw how much weight he had lost.
Origin of double take
An Americanism dating back to 1935-40 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for double-take
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He thought of Bette, the inveterate explainer and double-take expert.

    Pagan Passions Gordon Randall Garrett
  • Jerry started to sweat over the thing again, then suddenly did a double-take.

    The Short Life Francis Donovan
  • The whistle came from his lips this time, as he did a double-take at the figure which confronted him.

    Castle of Terror E.J. Liston
  • My heart did a double-take; one slip and he'd be off into the gorge, and the frost stung, melting under his bare fingers.

British Dictionary definitions for double-take

double take

(esp in comedy) a delayed reaction by a person to a remark, situation, etc
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for double-take

1922, from double (adj.) + take (n.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for double-take



A sudden second look or a laugh or gesture over something one has at first ignored or accepted; a belated reaction: She suddenly caught the reference and did a double-take


: I double-took a little bit when she ordered a cigar (1940s+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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