Definition of second-hand in English:



  • 1(of goods) having had a previous owner; not new.

    ‘a second-hand car’
    • ‘They probably don't even know a second-hand car salesman, as the latest 4x4 would be brand new as would be the cell phone.’
    • ‘Although the year 2004 proved to be a cold winter for China's auto industry, the country's second-hand auto market experienced continuing growth.’
    • ‘However, this week, he had purchased a second-hand copy of poems by Emily Bronte, which had been recently republished in 1901.’
    • ‘I do like second-hand things, but mostly I go for colour and fabric.’
    • ‘Most of the items are in good enough condition, considering that they are second-hand goods.’
    • ‘The first edition had twelve pages, and the incredible figure of 200000 copies rolled off the second-hand presses.’
    • ‘The Scottish Motor Traders Association, which represents both new and second-hand car dealers, said it was ‘disappointed’ by the survey results.’
    • ‘Especially since it seems my copy is second-hand.’
    • ‘The rate applicable to investors in new and second-hand properties has been adjusted.’
    • ‘Farms in this country are being sold like second-hand cars at a vehicle auction.’
    • ‘In Australia there is no such thing as second-hand school clothing.’
    • ‘People on the housing waiting list accept second-hand houses.’
    • ‘The west does not need second-hand copies: they have the originals.’
    • ‘There are a scattering of IT resellers with second-hand stock.’
    • ‘I remember buying second-hand Levis before it was cool to do so.’
    • ‘But I'm always in the market for second-hand copies of software.’
    • ‘Ms Finnegan said another factor underpinning the pace of inflation was the limited stock of second-hand property available for sale.’
    • ‘Cllr Johnny O'Malley said the second-hand unit could be accepted as a stop-gap.’
    • ‘The home was furnished with second-hand goods and the children had hand-me down clothes although they always had shoes from Clarks.’
    • ‘Strangely, the wholesale booksellers who normally stock second-hand copies of the same are falling short to meet students' demand.’
    • ‘When this first began 15 years ago, the toys received were often of fairly poor quality; second-hand goods ready to be thrown out.’
    used, old, nearly new, worn, pre-owned, handed-down, cast-off
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    1. 1.1 Denoting a shop where second-hand goods can be bought.
      ‘a second-hand bookshop’
      • ‘The blocks on this street between St-Laurent and St-Denis are lined with second-hand stores.’
      • ‘Pizza Nonna is next to two second-hand shops but these have not been vandalised.’
      • ‘I spot a rather pathetic second-hand shop down the way, and figure I'll try there.’
      • ‘Ricky and Fred love their worn-out clothes so much that the girls see no choice but to sell their rags to a local second-hand store.’
      • ‘I have a friend who used to run a second-hand bookshop in the city.’
      • ‘Built into the barge's old fuel tank, the green room looked like a furniture display in a second-hand store.’
      • ‘Thrift stores include the Salvation Army, flea markets, as well as second-hand stores.’
      • ‘Measures will also be taken to catch people who receive stolen goods - particularly those who use second-hand outlets and car boot sales.’
      • ‘I'm looking forward to miles of walking along the water and I love browsing through the second-hand stores and thrift shops in the area.’
      • ‘And more and more second-hand stores gather vintage clothing donated to them into a special area.’
      • ‘They can still be found (although they are becoming increasingly expensive) in second-hand bookshops.’
      • ‘Actual dance costumes, complete with glitter and sequins, often end up in second-hand shops.’
      • ‘Like all the best second-hand record shops, Rob's is a complete mess.’
      • ‘So I went shopping, but when your destination is the local second-hand shop you can't really call it shopping.’
      • ‘There is only one place better than a video shop, and that is a good second-hand bookshop.’
      • ‘Keep an eye out for it in second-hand shops and book sales.’
      • ‘Adrian Mole is 35 and works in a second-hand book shop in Leicester.’
      • ‘In second-hand bookshops around Melbourne you can still find copies of his grandfather's sermons.’
      • ‘They can be had in second-hand bookshops for a few pounds, and in charity shops for pennies.’
      • ‘What changed his life was finding an old map in a secondhand bookstore.’
  • 2(of information or experience) accepted on another's authority and not from original investigation.

    ‘second-hand knowledge of her country’
    • ‘It is the equivalent of late-night pub gossip, with nothing more than second-hand hearsay evidence to back it up.’
    • ‘A poet must experience, rather than simulate reality or rely on second-hand information.’
    • ‘The second-hand details are fixed firmly on a solid framework of first-hand memories: but memories of another continent.’
    • ‘Mind you that salt should be taken, as second-hand information and college statistics might not be enough.’
    • ‘All the animals come to see; nobody wants to get second-hand news.’
    • ‘Anybody out there have any tips from first- or second-hand experience?’
    • ‘So it's really kind of an assessment of second-hand information, you know?’
    • ‘They'd rather get second-hand info about the finances from Wong than have to talk to the lippy accountant.’
    • ‘Most of us can only vouch for that from second-hand experience but we have no reason to doubt it.’
    • ‘Unlike traditional courts, second-hand evidence and hearsay can be admitted as evidence.’
    • ‘I wonder if anyone has any experience, personal or second-hand, of the London Library?’
    • ‘Dealing with that kind of pressure and developing a practical attitude is not something you can get from second-hand experience.’
    • ‘My knowledge is largely second-hand, garnered as it was from my view above my grandmother's shop.’
    • ‘What does first-hand experience add, that all available second-hand knowledge cannot supply?’
    • ‘She added that further action would be difficult without an official complaint as officers only have second-hand evidence to rely on.’
    • ‘It's a signal that this region has been supplied with second-hand experiences for too long and that now it should be the first.’
    • ‘This requires reliance on second-hand information which may not be as accurate.’
    • ‘As a result, much of the information that the public receives comes from the media, or second-hand information based on media exposure.’
    • ‘All of this is being related by me as second-hand knowledge.’
    • ‘The news comes from American nurse Linley York and is at least second-hand information.’
    indirect, secondary, derivative, derived, vicarious
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  • 1On the basis that something has had a previous owner.

    ‘tips on the pitfalls to avoid when buying second-hand’
    • ‘I had found some of the biographies second-hand over the years.’
    • ‘"Don't be afraid to buy second-hand, " Phil says.’
    • ‘The van was bought second-hand for £3,000, two years ago.’
    • ‘We are the kind of people, he thought, who buy their own furniture and second-hand at that.’
    • ‘What really rubbed salt into the wound, was that some of the aircraft were even purchased secondhand.’
    • ‘Irish retailers boasted the sale of London patterns and a number offered to buy used lace second-hand.’
    • ‘I bought my copy second-hand, from a Trotskyist in her forties.’
    • ‘The biggest-selling MPVs in the UK are the Citroën Picasso and Renault Mégane Scénic, both of which can be bought second-hand for well within your budget.’
    • ‘The vehicle was bought second-hand in 1997 by islanders but withdrawn from service three months ago when a door was damaged.’
    • ‘The x-ray machine - bought second-hand from Germany - had broken down.’
    • ‘If your machine was purchased second-hand, this is a good time to get to know your local dealer.’
    • ‘I had a washing machine which I bought second-hand.’
    • ‘There are loads of ways of selling goods second-hand when otherwise you might throw them away.’
    • ‘Find one of those lovely old editions second-hand is my advice.’
  • 2On the basis of what others have said; indirectly.

    ‘I was discounting anything I heard second-hand’
    • ‘The challenge of science is to overcome the constraints of our neurological wetware and understand a physical world that we know only second-hand and incompletely.’
    • ‘Most people get their news about global warming second-hand, but for those who want to keep their own finger on the pulse of the planet, two Web sites merit special interest.’
    • ‘And knowledge requires using your mind to think for yourself about things, rather than taking over opinions second-hand without examining them.’
    • ‘I'm very mistrustful about it, because just everyone knows that when you get things second-hand, the problems that there are in the translation are great.’
    • ‘The hospitality I received cannot be experienced second-hand.’
    indirectly, at second hand, on the bush telegraph, on the jungle telegraph
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  • at second hand

    • By hearsay rather than direct observation or experience.

      • ‘The palace consequently represents an injection of French Renaissance aesthetic taken pure and from the source, rather than mediated at second hand through the observations of visitors.’
      • ‘She had grown tired of experiencing life at second hand.’
      • ‘His quotations from classical authors are taken mostly at second hand.’
      • ‘Also I hated all the mania, because I'd been through all that for many many years, albeit at second hand.’
      • ‘The downside of computer images is their presentation of Nature at second hand.’
      • ‘Their influence on literature may be at second hand but is none the less important.’
      • ‘In the book he frequently describes important meetings at second hand.’
      • ‘Newman's fans among critics are either people who knew him well, worked with him, or other people who have had the experience at second hand through what these critics have written.’
      • ‘Scientific judgements, like practical principles, can be received at second hand.’
      • ‘Art reflects life at second hand, as it were, when experience and detachment integrate in a dialectical union of ‘poetic’ or ‘analytic’ experience.’
      indirectly, at second hand, on the bush telegraph, on the jungle telegraph
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