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 Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for double-take

Contemporary Examples of double-take

Historical Examples of double-take

  • 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

Word Origin and History for double-take

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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper