[ sek-uhnd ]
See synonyms for: secondsecondedsecondsseconder on

  1. next after the first; being the ordinal number for two.

  2. being the latter of two equal parts.

  1. next after the first in place, time, or value: the second house from the corner.

  2. next after the first in rank, grade, degree, status, or importance: the second person in the company.

  3. alternate; other: I have my hair cut every second week.

  4. inferior or subordinate; secondary.

  5. Grammar. noting or pertaining to the second person.

  6. Music. being the lower of two parts for the same instrument or voice: second horn; second alto.

  7. other or another: a second Solomon.

  8. Automotive. of, relating to, or operating at the gear transmission ratio at which drive shaft speed is greater than that of low gear but not so great as that of other gears for a given engine crankshaft speed: second gear.

  1. a second part.

  2. the second member of a series.

  1. a person who aids or supports another; assistant; backer.

  2. Boxing. a person who, between rounds of a prizefight, gives aid, advice, etc., to a boxer.

  3. a person who serves as a representative or attendant of a duelist.

  4. Automotive. second gear.

  5. a person or thing that is next after the first in place, time, or value.

  6. a person or thing that is next after the first in rank, grade, degree, status, or importance.

  7. Usually seconds. an additional helping of food: He had seconds on the meat and potatoes.

  8. (in parliamentary procedure)

    • a person who expresses formal support of a motion so that it may be discussed or put to a vote.

    • an act or instance of doing this.

  9. (in certain British universities) a type or grade of college degree granted according to a student's performance on specific written and oral examinations.

  10. Music.

    • a tone on the next degree from a given tone.

    • the interval between such tones.

    • the harmonic combination of such tones.

    • the lower of two parts in a piece of concerted music.

    • a voice or instrument performing such a part.

    • an alto.

  11. Usually seconds .Commerce. goods below the first or highest quality, especially containing visible flaws.: Compare first (def. 17), third (def. 12).

  12. Metallurgy. a piece of somewhat defective but salable tin plate.

  13. Baseball. second base.

verb (used with object)
  1. to assist or support.

  2. to further or advance, as aims.

  1. (in parliamentary procedure) to express formal support of (a motion, proposal, etc.), as a necessary preliminary to further discussion or to voting.

  2. to act as second to (a boxer, duelist, etc.).

  1. in the second place, group, etc.; secondly: The catcher is batting second.

Origin of second

First recorded in 1250–1300; Middle English second, secound(e) (adjective, noun, and adverb), from Old French secunt, secun, second (adjective), from Latin secundus “following, next, second,” equivalent to sec- (base of sequī “to follow”) + -undus verbal adjective suffix

Other words for second

Other words from second

  • sec·ond·er, noun

Words Nearby second

Other definitions for second (2 of 3)

[ sek-uhnd ]

  1. the sixtieth part of a minute of time.

  2. a moment or instant: It takes only a second to phone.

  1. the basic unit of time in the International System of Units (SI), equal to the duration of 9,192,631,770 cycles of radiation in a transition, or energy level change, of the cesium atom. Abbreviation: sec; Symbol: s, S

  2. Geometry, Astronomy. the sixtieth part of a minute of angular measure, often represented by the sign ″, as in 30″, which is read as 30 seconds.: Compare angle1 (def. 1c).

Origin of second

First recorded in 1350–1400; Middle English seconde, from Middle French, from Medieval Latin secunda (minūta) “second (minute),” feminine of secundus “following, next”; see second1

Other words for second

Other definitions for second (3 of 3)

[ si-kond ]

verb (used with object)
  1. to transfer (a military officer, official, or employee) to another organization for temporary duty: Called up in 1941, he served in the Army until 1942, when he was seconded to Naval Intelligence at Bletchley.

Origin of second

First recorded in 1795–1805; from French second, noun use of the adjective in the phrase en second, as in lieutenant en second “second lieutenant”; see second1 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use second in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for second (1 of 3)


/ (ˈsɛkənd) /

adjective(usually prenominal)
    • coming directly after the first in numbering or counting order, position, time, etc; being the ordinal number of two: often written 2nd

    • (as noun): the second in line

  1. rated, graded, or ranked between the first and third levels

  1. alternate: every second Thursday

  2. additional; extra: a second opportunity

  3. resembling a person or event from an earlier period of history; unoriginal: a second Wagner

  4. of lower quality; inferior: belonging to the second class

  5. denoting the lowest but one forward ratio of a gearbox in a motor vehicle

  6. music

    • relating to or denoting a musical part, voice, or instrument lower in pitch than another part, voice, or instrument (the first): the second tenors

    • of or relating to a part, instrument, or instrumentalist regarded as subordinate to another (the first): the second flute

  7. at second hand by hearsay

  1. British education an honours degree of the second class, usually further divided into an upper and lower designation: Full term: second-class honours degree

  2. the lowest but one forward ratio of a gearbox in a motor vehicle: he changed into second on the bend

  1. (in boxing, duelling, etc) an attendant who looks after a competitor

  2. a speech seconding a motion or the person making it

  3. music

  4. (plural) goods of inferior quality

  5. (plural) informal a second helping of food

  6. (plural) the second course of a meal

  1. to give aid or backing to

  2. (in boxing, etc) to act as second to (a competitor)

  1. to make a speech or otherwise express formal support for (a motion already proposed)

  1. Also: secondly in the second place

sentence connector
  1. Also: secondly as the second point: linking what follows with the previous statement

Origin of second

C13: via Old French from Latin secundus coming next in order, from sequī to follow

Derived forms of second

  • seconder, noun

British Dictionary definitions for second (2 of 3)


/ (ˈsɛkənd) /

    • 1/60 of a minute of time

    • the basic SI unit of time: the duration of 9 192 631 770 periods of radiation corresponding to the transition between two hyperfine levels of the ground state of caesium-133: Symbol: s

  1. 1/60 of a minute of angle: Symbol:

  1. a very short period of time; moment

Origin of second

C14: from Old French, from Medieval Latin pars minūta secunda the second small part (a minute being the first small part of an hour); see second 1

British Dictionary definitions for second (3 of 3)


/ (sɪˈkɒnd) /

verb(tr) British
  1. to transfer (an employee) temporarily to another branch, etc

  2. military to transfer (an officer) to another post, often retiring him to a staff or nonregimental position

Origin of second

C19: from French en second in second rank (or position)

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

Scientific definitions for second


[ sĕkənd ]

  1. A unit of time equal to 160 of a minute.♦ A sidereal second is 160 of a sidereal minute, and a mean solar second is 160 of a mean solar minute. See more at sidereal time solar time.

  2. A unit of angular measurement, such as longitude or right ascension, equal to 160 of a minute of arc.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Other Idioms and Phrases with second


In addition to the idioms beginning with second

  • second banana
  • second best
  • second childhood
  • second class
  • second cousin
  • second fiddle
  • second hand
  • second nature
  • second sight
  • second thoughts
  • second to none
  • second wind

also see:

  • at second hand
  • come off (second best)
  • in a flash (second)
  • in the first (second) place
  • on second thought
  • play second fiddle
  • split second
  • top (second) banana

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.