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sec·ond 1

a. A unit of time equal to one sixtieth of a minute.
b. The time needed for a cesium-133 atom to perform 9,192,631,770 complete oscillations. See Table at measurement.
2. A brief interval of time; a moment. See Synonyms at moment.
3. Mathematics A unit of angular measure equal to one sixtieth of a minute. In this sense, also called arcsecond, second of arc.

[Middle English seconde, from Old French, from Medieval Latin (pars minūta) secunda, second (small part), feminine of Latin secundus, second, following; see second2.]

sec·ond 2

1. Coming next after the first in order, place, rank, time, or quality.
a. Repeating an initial instance: a second chance.
b. Reminiscent of one that is well known: a second George Washington; a second Waterloo.
c. Alternate; other: every second year.
3. Inferior to another; subordinate: second vice president at the bank; a leader second to none.
4. Music
a. Having a lower pitch.
b. Singing or playing a part having a lower range.
5. Having the second-highest ratio. Used of gears in a sequence.
a. The ordinal number matching the number 2 in a series.
b. One of two equal parts.
2. One that is next in order, place, time, or quality after the first.
3. often seconds An article of merchandise of inferior quality.
4. The official attendant of a contestant in a duel or boxing match.
5. Music
a. The interval between consecutive tones on the diatonic scale.
b. A tone separated by this interval from another tone.
c. A combination of two such tones in notation or in harmony.
d. The second part, instrument, or voice in a harmonized composition.
6. An utterance of endorsement, as to a parliamentary motion.
7. The transmission gear or gear ratio used to produce forward speeds higher than those of first and lower than those of third in a motor vehicle.
8. or seconds Informal A second serving of food.
9. Baseball Second base.
tr.v. sec·ond·ed, sec·ond·ing, sec·onds
a. To endorse (a motion or nomination) as a required preliminary to discussion or vote.
b. To support or promote: Her suggestion was seconded by several colleagues.
2. To attend (a duelist or a boxer) as an aide or assistant.
3. (sĭ-kŏnd′) Chiefly British To transfer (a military officer, for example) temporarily.
1. In the second order, place, or rank: finished second.
2. But for one other; save one: the second highest peak.

[Middle English, from Old French, from Latin secundus; see sekw- in Indo-European roots.]
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


  • blipvert - A TV advertisement of a few seconds' length.
  • centiday - A period of 14 minutes 24 seconds, a hundredth of a day, used especially in the study of plant growth.
  • fireflies, lightning bug - Fireflies glow for a while but die down; lightning bugs flash their taillights for only a few seconds and never in the same place twice.
  • jiffy - An actual unit of time, .01 seconds.
Farlex Trivia Dictionary. © 2012 Farlex, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in classic literature ?
The outer envelope might then be cast off as a useless encumbrance; and the second balloon, left free to itself, would not offer the same hold to the currents of air as a half-inflated one must needs present.
In that moment Boxtel's exasperation was the more fierce, as, though suspecting that Cornelius possessed a second bulb, he by no means felt sure of it.
When he had explained his wishes to the chief, the latter, though at heart hating and fearing Muda Saffir, dared not refuse; but to a second proposition he offered strong opposition until the rajah threatened to wipe out his entire tribe should he not accede to his demands.
They went out presently to go up to the top of the hill, where I used to go; but they being strong, and a good company, nor alone, as I was, used none of my cautions to go up by the ladder, and pulling it up after them, to go up a second stage to the top, but were going round through the grove unwarily, when they were surprised with seeing a light as of fire, a very little way from them, and hearing the voices of men, not of one or two, but of a great number.
The next day the second brother undertook the task; but he succeeded no better than the first; for he could only find the second hundred of the pearls; and therefore he too was turned into stone.
In the first case the two sexual elements which go to form the embryo are perfect; in the second case they are either not at all developed, or are imperfectly developed.
The people having received notice a second time, I went again through the city to the palace with my two stools in my hands.
Didn't I sail in as a youngster, second mate on the brig Berncastle, into Hakodate, pumping double watches to keep afloat just because a whale took a smash at us?
"And I," said a second, "I, by chance, had an uncle who directed the works of the port of La Rochelle.
Besides, they felt that the denouement of this second Odyssey was at hand and that there remained but a single effort to make.
Our second plan is first to collect together all the aspects which he presents successively to a given spectator, and then to do the same thing for the other spectators, thus forming a set of series instead of a series of sets.
The second squadron of the Lancers shot by, and there was the troop-horse, with his tail like spun silk, his head pulled into his breast, one ear forward and one back, setting the time for all his squadron, his legs going as smoothly as waltz music.