Origin of second

1250–1300; Middle English (adj., noun and adv.) < Old French (adj.) < Latin secundus following, next, second, equivalent to sec- (base of sequī to follow) + -undus adj. suffix
Related formssec·ond·er, noun

Synonyms for second



verb (used with object)

British. to transfer (an officer, official, or the like) temporarily to another post.

Origin of second

1795–1805; < French second, noun use of the adj. in the phrase en second, as in lieutenant en second second lieutenant; see second1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for seconding

Historical Examples of seconding

  • It might have been better had I confined myself to seconding the motion.

    The Grand Old Man

    Richard B. Cook

  • Its voice seemed to be seconding Wyndham's and Katherine's verdict.

    Audrey Craven

    May Sinclair

  • And seconding words with blows, he fell upon his tall countryman.

    Red Cap Tales

    Samuel Rutherford Crockett

  • Dr. Blair, we are told, relieved their confusion by seconding Burns's praise.

    Robert Burns

    Principal Shairp.

  • You need not fear that you will offend them by seconding the address.

    The Duke's Children

    Anthony Trollope

British Dictionary definitions for seconding



adjective (usually prenominal)

  1. coming directly after the first in numbering or counting order, position, time, etc; being the ordinal number of two: often written 2nd
  2. (as noun)the second in line
rated, graded, or ranked between the first and third levels
alternateevery second Thursday
additional; extraa second opportunity
resembling a person or event from an earlier period of history; unoriginala second Wagner
of lower quality; inferiorbelonging to the second class
denoting the lowest but one forward ratio of a gearbox in a motor vehicle
  1. relating to or denoting a musical part, voice, or instrument lower in pitch than another part, voice, or instrument (the first)the second tenors
  2. of or relating to a part, instrument, or instrumentalist regarded as subordinate to another (the first)the second flute
at second hand by hearsay


British education an honours degree of the second class, usually further divided into an upper and lower designationFull term: second-class honours degree
the lowest but one forward ratio of a gearbox in a motor vehiclehe changed into second on the bend
(in boxing, duelling, etc) an attendant who looks after a competitor
a speech seconding a motion or the person making it
  1. the interval between one note and another lying next above or below it in the diatonic scale
  2. one of two notes constituting such an interval in relation to the otherSee also minor (def. 4), major (def. 14), interval (def. 5)
(plural) goods of inferior quality
(plural) informal a second helping of food
(plural) the second course of a meal

verb (tr)

to give aid or backing to
(in boxing, etc) to act as second to (a competitor)
to make a speech or otherwise express formal support for (a motion already proposed)


Also: secondly in the second place

sentence connector

Also: secondly as the second point: linking what follows with the previous statement
Derived Formsseconder, noun

Word Origin for second

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




  1. 1/60 of a minute of time
  2. 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-133Symbol: s
1/60 of a minute of angleSymbol:
a very short period of time; moment

Word Origin for 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



verb (tr) British

to transfer (an employee) temporarily to another branch, etc
military to transfer (an officer) to another post, often retiring him to a staff or nonregimental position

Word Origin for 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

Word Origin and History for seconding



"next after first," c.1300, from Old French second, secont, and directly from Latin secundus "following, next in time or order," also "secondary, subordinate, inferior," from root of sequi "follow" (see sequel). Replaced native other in this sense because of the ambiguousness of the earlier word. Second sight is from 1610s; an etymologically perverse term, because it means in reality the sight of events before, not after, they occur. Second fiddle first attested 1809:

A metaphor borrowed from a musical performer who plays the second or counter to one who plays the first or the "air." [Bartlett, "Dictionary of Americanisms," 1848]



"one-sixtieth of a minute of degree," also "sixtieth part of a minute of time," late 14c. in geometry, from Old French seconde, from Medieval Latin secunda, short for secunda pars minuta "second diminished part," the result of the second division of the hour by sixty (the first being the "prime minute," now called the minute), from Latin secunda, fem. of secundus (see second (adj.)). The second hand of a clock is attested from 1759.



1580s, "to support or represent in a duel, fight, etc.," from Middle French seconder, from Latin secundare "to assist, make favorable," from secundus "assisting, favorable, following, second" (see second (adj.)). The noun in this sense is first recorded 1580s. The verb in the parliamentary sense is first recorded 1590s. Related: Seconded; seconding.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

seconding in Medicine




Coming next after the first in order, place, rank, time, or quality.
Being the next closest to the innermost digit, especially on the foot.
Related formssecond n.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

seconding in Science



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.
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.

Idioms and Phrases with seconding


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.