Definition of second best in US English:

second best


  • Next after the best.

    ‘his second-best suit’
    • ‘However, he gives the second-best populist pitch, after Howard Dean, of any of these candidates.’
    • ‘The second best basketball sound is the squeak of new shoes on a basketball floor.’
    • ‘In any case, he's easily the second-best thing about the movie.’
    • ‘It is only a second-best pain, but it surely feels like the real thing.’
    • ‘Majority rule is a second-best solution: Less than half the voters are denied their preferences.’
    • ‘He recognizes music as a compromise, as a second-best thing, as something that is good but far from the best.’
    • ‘So as noted, being on call Thanksgiving is the second-best scenario.’
    • ‘The Grotto has been called the world's second-best diving site.’
    • ‘This is the second-best performance of Joseph I've ever seen.’
    • ‘We expect aggregate figures slightly to exceed those for last year, which would make 2004 the second-best year on record.’
    • ‘It all boils down to the fact that this is a second-best world.’
    • ‘The second-best luck is to have bought a house in Vancouver or Toronto 40, 50, 60 years ago.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Tuna fish is rated as the second best seafood after prawns and is of great demand in Japan and European nations.’
    • ‘I cut my hair on a whim, losing my second-best feature in a few snips.’
    • ‘Hewitt played through the 1990s and for much of that time was clearly the second-best hooker in New Zealand.’
    • ‘Robert Heinlein observed that a second-best military is the most expensive thing in the world.’
    • ‘So bilateral deals are essentially a pragmatic second-best approach.’
    • ‘Belgium have looked like the second best team in Group B, which will probably be confirmed by a point tomorrow night.’
    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’
    • ‘It's a bumpy, 39 day road to second-best and the Kerry campaign is riding it with no shocks.’
    • ‘In routine ways, we are mostly happy to settle for the second best or intellectual handouts.’
    • ‘If our best social talent is no longer willing to serve politically, we inevitably suffer second-best.’
    • ‘But Appleby still looked second-best against Kendal's ten men and could not get hold of the ball.’
    • ‘And God also seems to have the highest expectations of us, not settling for second-best or letting sleeping dogs lie.’
    • ‘At the time I argued that John Smit was the second best and Gary Botha the best.’
    • ‘Another reason could be that parents themselves don't want to have to resort to second-best for their children.’
    • ‘She held up Jane Eyre as a plain girl who gets her man and settles for second-best.’
    • ‘The best surgeon can only settle for second-best if he ever needs surgery.’
    • ‘It is rare for Kirkby to score four good tries and come second-best but they did that against a powerful Carlisle side.’
    • ‘But second-best in the city of Milan proved beyond the pale.’
    • ‘But when it came to snapping up the chances, they were a struggling second best.’
    • ‘Capping noneconomic damages is a very blunt instrument, a very poor 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.’
    • ‘A simple example will illustrate why bribery is a second-best.’
    • ‘If we can't find the exact time, then the time it was first reported is a good second best.’
    • ‘At an average wage of 36,674, public servants were the second-best of all categories of workers, the report shows.’
    • ‘Back then, Keane had been critical of a lack of ambition, of what he saw as a willingness to settle for second-best.’
    • ‘He predicts that the Massachusetts senator ‘will look a decided second-best to Bill Clinton’.’
    • ‘Now, I favor second bests in many situations, but first you have to show that the best isn't feasible.’


  • 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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He said: ‘We have come off second best to Ulster of late and we will certainly be treating them with respect.’’
      • ‘Although Best was the local boy made good, Johnstone did not come off second best in the area that the Celtic skipper grew up.’
      • ‘Veteran Noade made the announcement after coming off second best in a warm-up bout in Barcelona last week.’
      • ‘Now, while away, I saw much of the Dean-Nader debate, and Nader came off second best.’
      • ‘Teenage midfielder Byron Webster limped out of the action on 32 minutes after coming off second best in a challenge.’
      • ‘They are already in deep planning to work out how they can appear to handle this Convention and not come 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.’
      • ‘Two minutes later Kelly was in collision with a defender when attempting to advance a Nevin raid, but came off second best.’
      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/