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second best

the next to the best in performance, achievement, craftsmanship, etc.
Origin of second best
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English
Related forms
second-best, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for second-best
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • This objection was withdrawn later; but the non-socialists gave only their second-best men as members of the new government.

    The Russian Revolution; The Jugo-Slav Movement Alexander Petrunkevitch, Samuel Northrup Harper, Frank Alfred Golder, Robert Joseph Kerner
  • An auto-taxi is second-best, but be sure that the top is off.

    Paris Vistas Helen Davenport Gibbons
  • "You seem to have come off second-best," suggested Draycott.

    Sonia Between two Worlds Stephen McKenna
  • Praise, according to Aristotle, does not belong to the best things, but only to the second-best.

    Aristotle George Grote
  • A second-best bonnet, left of last year, did duty to relieve and preserve the best one.

    Household Papers and Stories Harriet Beecher Stowe
  • My Kate is not going to be second-best–not if I can help it; what do I care for their dukedom?

    I, Thou, and the Other One Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr
British Dictionary definitions for second-best


next to the best
(informal) come off second best, to be defeated in competition
an inferior alternative
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
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Idioms and Phrases with second-best

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® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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