[sek-uh nd-klas, -klahs]
See more synonyms for second-class on
  1. by second-class mail or passenger accommodations: to travel second-class.

Origin of second-class

First recorded in 1830–40

second class

  1. the class of travel accommodations, as on a train, that are less costly and luxurious than first class but are more costly and luxurious than third class.Compare cabin class.
  2. (in the U.S. Postal Service) the class of mail consisting of newspapers and periodicals not sealed against postal inspection.
  3. the second of three honors degrees conferred by a British university.

Origin of second class

First recorded in 1830–40 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for second-class

Contemporary Examples of second-class

Historical Examples of second-class

British Dictionary definitions for second-class

second class

  1. the class or grade next in value, quality, etc, to the first
  1. of the class or grade next to the best in quality, etc
  2. shoddy or inferior
  3. of or denoting the class of accommodation in a hotel or on a train, etc, lower in quality and price than first class
    1. (in Britain) of or relating to mail that is processed more slowly than first-class mail
    2. (in the US and Canada) of or relating to mail that consists mainly of newspapers, etc
  4. education See second 1 (def. 10)
  1. by second-class mail, transport, 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 second-class

1833, from noun phrase (1810), from second (adj.) + class (n.). Phrase second-class citizen is recorded from 1942.

The Negro recognizes that he is a second-class citizen and that status is fraught with violent potentialities, particularly today when he is living up to the full responsibilities of citizenship on the field of battle. [Louis E. Martin, "To Be or Not to Be a Liberal," in "The Crisis," September 1942]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with second-class

second class


Inferior; see second best.


Travel accommodations ranking below the highest or first class, as in Traveling second class on European trains is not only cheaper but gives you more contact with local people. [c. 1840]


In the United States and Canada, a category of mail consisting of periodicals and newspapers. [c. 1870]


second-class citizen. An individual regarded or treated as inferior to others in status or rights, an underprivileged person. For example, In many countries women still are considered second-class citizens. This term uses second class in the sense of “inferior.” [c. 1940]

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