second best

noun
the next to the best in performance, achievement, craftsmanship, etc.

Origin:
1400–50; late Middle English

second-best, adjective
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

second best

Also, second class. Next after the first in rank or quality, inferior to the best, as in We aren't satisfied with being second best in sales, or This hotel is obviously second class. The first term dates from the first half of the 1400s, the variant from about 1800. Also see come off, def. 2; second class.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
Wind is the second best emission free energy source next nuclear.
Not pursuing an academic career can be seen as settling for second best, if not
  downright failure.
Five years ago, they were the second best way to do almost any problem.
Second best, extension of the unemployment insurance.
Idioms & Phrases
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