Definition of second best in US English:

second best


  • Next after the best.

    ‘his second-best suit’
    • ‘Tuna fish is rated as the second best seafood after prawns and is of great demand in Japan and European nations.’
    • ‘Hewitt played through the 1990s and for much of that time was clearly the second-best hooker in New Zealand.’
    • ‘We expect aggregate figures slightly to exceed those for last year, which would make 2004 the second-best year on record.’
    • ‘Belgium have looked like the second best team in Group B, which will probably be confirmed by a point tomorrow night.’
    • ‘It all boils down to the fact that this is a second-best world.’
    • ‘So bilateral deals are essentially a pragmatic second-best approach.’
    • ‘This is the second-best performance of Joseph I've ever seen.’
    • ‘Robert Heinlein observed that a second-best military is the most expensive thing in the world.’
    • ‘However, he gives the second-best populist pitch, after Howard Dean, of any of these candidates.’
    • ‘The Grotto has been called the world's second-best diving site.’
    • ‘I cut my hair on a whim, losing my second-best feature in a few snips.’
    • ‘He recognizes music as a compromise, as a second-best thing, as something that is good but far from the best.’
    • ‘Majority rule is a second-best solution: Less than half the voters are denied their preferences.’
    • ‘It is only a second-best pain, but it surely feels like the real thing.’
    • ‘Phil Mickelson, by some distance the second-best player in the world, has now played in 40 Majors and has yet to win one.’
    • ‘The adoptive parent is not a conditional parent, not a substitute parent, not a second-best parent but the real thing all the way.’
    • ‘In any case, he's easily the second-best thing about the movie.’
    • ‘The second-best luck is to have bought a house in Vancouver or Toronto 40, 50, 60 years ago.’
    • ‘So as noted, being on call Thanksgiving is the second-best scenario.’
    • ‘The second best basketball sound is the squeak of new shoes on a basketball floor.’
    second-rate, second-best, low-class, inferior, lesser, unimportant
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  • A less adequate or less desirable alternative.

    ‘he would have to settle for second best’
    • ‘Our aim will be to be the best at whatever we do not second-best across a wide range, but the best in whatever areas we choose to operate.’
    • ‘If we can't find the exact time, then the time it was first reported is a good second best.’
    • ‘A simple example will illustrate why bribery is a second-best.’
    • ‘At an average wage of 36,674, public servants were the second-best of all categories of workers, the report shows.’
    • ‘Another reason could be that parents themselves don't want to have to resort to second-best for their children.’
    • ‘It's a bumpy, 39 day road to second-best and the Kerry campaign is riding it with no shocks.’
    • ‘Now, I favor second bests in many situations, but first you have to show that the best isn't feasible.’
    • ‘If our best social talent is no longer willing to serve politically, we inevitably suffer second-best.’
    • ‘At the time I argued that John Smit was the second best and Gary Botha the best.’
    • ‘It is rare for Kirkby to score four good tries and come second-best but they did that against a powerful Carlisle side.’
    • ‘The best surgeon can only settle for second-best if he ever needs surgery.’
    • ‘And God also seems to have the highest expectations of us, not settling for second-best or letting sleeping dogs lie.’
    • ‘He predicts that the Massachusetts senator ‘will look a decided second-best to Bill Clinton’.’
    • ‘But Appleby still looked second-best against Kendal's ten men and could not get hold of the ball.’
    • ‘But when it came to snapping up the chances, they were a struggling second best.’
    • ‘Back then, Keane had been critical of a lack of ambition, of what he saw as a willingness to settle for second-best.’
    • ‘But second-best in the city of Milan proved beyond the pale.’
    • ‘Capping noneconomic damages is a very blunt instrument, a very poor second-best.’
    • ‘She held up Jane Eyre as a plain girl who gets her man and settles for second-best.’
    • ‘In routine ways, we are mostly happy to settle for the second best or intellectual handouts.’


  • come off second best

    • Be defeated in a competition.

      • ‘From looking at the video, I went for a tackle, took a bang on the side of the head and came off second best.’
      • ‘Two minutes later Kelly was in collision with a defender when attempting to advance a Nevin raid, but came off second best.’
      • ‘In all the outfield exchanges, Mount Sion were coming off second best but the Waterford champions were thrown a lifeline in the ninth minute.’
      • ‘Teenage midfielder Byron Webster limped out of the action on 32 minutes after coming off second best in a challenge.’
      • ‘Now, while away, I saw much of the Dean-Nader debate, and Nader came off second best.’
      • ‘Veteran Noade made the announcement after coming off second best in a warm-up bout in Barcelona last week.’
      • ‘Although Best was the local boy made good, Johnstone did not come off second best in the area that the Celtic skipper grew up.’
      • ‘He said: ‘We have come off second best to Ulster of late and we will certainly be treating them with respect.’’
      • ‘They are already in deep planning to work out how they can appear to handle this Convention and not come off second best.’
      • ‘But gutsy Roscommon showed they had no intention of coming off second best to the side that lost last year's All Ireland final after a replay.’
      be defeated, be beaten, suffer defeat, be the loser, be conquered, be vanquished, be trounced, be worsted, be bested by, get the worst, have the worst, come off second-best, lose out, fail, come to grief, meet one's waterloo
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second best

/ˌsɛkən(d) ˈbɛst//ˌsekən(d) ˈbest/