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90s Slang You Should Know

second best

the next to the best in performance, achievement, craftsmanship, etc.
Origin of second best
late Middle English
late Middle English word dating back to 1400-50
Related forms
second-best, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for second-best
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • This objection was withdrawn later; but the non-socialists gave only their second-best men as members of the new government.

    The Russian Revolution; The Jugo-Slav Movement Alexander Petrunkevitch, Samuel Northrup Harper, Frank Alfred Golder, Robert Joseph Kerner
  • An auto-taxi is second-best, but be sure that the top is off.

    Paris Vistas Helen Davenport Gibbons
  • "You seem to have come off second-best," suggested Draycott.

    Sonia Between two Worlds Stephen McKenna
  • Praise, according to Aristotle, does not belong to the best things, but only to the second-best.

    Aristotle George Grote
  • A second-best bonnet, left of last year, did duty to relieve and preserve the best one.

    Household Papers and Stories Harriet Beecher Stowe
  • My Kate is not going to be second-best–not if I can help it; what do I care for their dukedom?

    I, Thou, and the Other One Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr
British Dictionary definitions for second-best


next to the best
(informal) come off second best, to be defeated in competition
an inferior alternative
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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Idioms and Phrases with second-best

second best

Also, second class . Next after the first in rank or quality, inferior to the best, as in We aren't satisfied with being second best in sales , or This hotel is obviously second class . The first term dates from the first half of the 1400s, the variant from about 1800. Also see come off , def. 2; second class
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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