Definition of secondhand in US English:



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

    ‘a secondhand car’
    • ‘The first edition had twelve pages, and the incredible figure of 200000 copies rolled off the second-hand presses.’
    • ‘The rate applicable to investors in new and second-hand properties has been adjusted.’
    • ‘The Scottish Motor Traders Association, which represents both new and second-hand car dealers, said it was ‘disappointed’ by the survey results.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Most of the items are in good enough condition, considering that they are second-hand goods.’
    • ‘There are a scattering of IT resellers with second-hand stock.’
    • ‘Especially since it seems my copy is second-hand.’
    • ‘However, this week, he had purchased a second-hand copy of poems by Emily Bronte, which had been recently republished in 1901.’
    • ‘People on the housing waiting list accept second-hand houses.’
    • ‘Farms in this country are being sold like second-hand cars at a vehicle auction.’
    • ‘I do like second-hand things, but mostly I go for colour and fabric.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘But I'm always in the market for second-hand copies of software.’
    • ‘Strangely, the wholesale booksellers who normally stock second-hand copies of the same are falling short to meet students' demand.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The home was furnished with second-hand goods and the children had hand-me down clothes although they always had shoes from Clarks.’
    • ‘I remember buying second-hand Levis before it was cool to do so.’
    • ‘When this first began 15 years ago, the toys received were often of fairly poor quality; second-hand goods ready to be thrown out.’
    • ‘In Australia there is no such thing as second-hand school clothing.’
    • ‘The west does not need second-hand copies: they have the originals.’
    used, old, nearly new, worn, pre-owned, handed-down, cast-off
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    1. 1.1attributive Denoting a store or shop where previously owned goods can be bought.
      ‘a secondhand bookstore’
      • ‘There is only one place better than a video shop, and that is a good second-hand bookshop.’
      • ‘They can still be found (although they are becoming increasingly expensive) in second-hand bookshops.’
      • ‘The blocks on this street between St-Laurent and St-Denis are lined with second-hand stores.’
      • ‘So I went shopping, but when your destination is the local second-hand shop you can't really call it shopping.’
      • ‘Adrian Mole is 35 and works in a second-hand book shop in Leicester.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Actual dance costumes, complete with glitter and sequins, often end up in second-hand shops.’
      • ‘Built into the barge's old fuel tank, the green room looked like a furniture display in a second-hand store.’
      • ‘In second-hand bookshops around Melbourne you can still find copies of his grandfather's sermons.’
      • ‘And more and more second-hand stores gather vintage clothing donated to them into a special area.’
      • ‘Thrift stores include the Salvation Army, flea markets, as well as second-hand stores.’
      • ‘Like all the best second-hand record shops, Rob's is a complete mess.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Measures will also be taken to catch people who receive stolen goods - particularly those who use second-hand outlets and car boot sales.’
      • ‘Keep an eye out for it in second-hand shops and book sales.’
      • ‘They can be had in second-hand bookshops for a few pounds, and in charity shops for pennies.’
      • ‘I have a friend who used to run a second-hand bookshop in the city.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.

    ‘secondhand knowledge of her country’
    • ‘The news comes from American nurse Linley York and is at least second-hand information.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘My knowledge is largely second-hand, garnered as it was from my view above my grandmother's shop.’
    • ‘It is the equivalent of late-night pub gossip, with nothing more than second-hand hearsay evidence to back it up.’
    • ‘This requires reliance on second-hand information which may not be as accurate.’
    • ‘All of this is being related by me as second-hand knowledge.’
    • ‘Dealing with that kind of pressure and developing a practical attitude is not something you can get from second-hand experience.’
    • ‘I wonder if anyone has any experience, personal or second-hand, of the London Library?’
    • ‘Mind you that salt should be taken, as second-hand information and college statistics might not be enough.’
    • ‘So it's really kind of an assessment of second-hand information, you know?’
    • ‘Most of us can only vouch for that from second-hand experience but we have no reason to doubt it.’
    • ‘They'd rather get second-hand info about the finances from Wong than have to talk to the lippy accountant.’
    • ‘Anybody out there have any tips from first- or second-hand experience?’
    • ‘Unlike traditional courts, second-hand evidence and hearsay can be admitted as evidence.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘A poet must experience, rather than simulate reality or rely on second-hand information.’
    • ‘All the animals come to see; nobody wants to get second-hand news.’
    • ‘The second-hand details are fixed firmly on a solid framework of first-hand memories: but memories of another continent.’
    • ‘As a result, much of the information that the public receives comes from the media, or second-hand information based on media exposure.’
    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 secondhand’
    • ‘There are loads of ways of selling goods second-hand when otherwise you might throw them away.’
    • ‘If your machine was purchased second-hand, this is a good time to get to know your local dealer.’
    • ‘We are the kind of people, he thought, who buy their own furniture and second-hand at that.’
    • ‘The vehicle was bought second-hand in 1997 by islanders but withdrawn from service three months ago when a door was damaged.’
    • ‘I had a washing machine which I bought second-hand.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Irish retailers boasted the sale of London patterns and a number offered to buy used lace second-hand.’
    • ‘Find one of those lovely old editions second-hand is my advice.’
    • ‘I bought my copy second-hand, from a Trotskyist in her forties.’
    • ‘I had found some of the biographies second-hand over the years.’
    • ‘The x-ray machine - bought second-hand from Germany - had broken down.’
    • ‘The van was bought second-hand for £3,000, two years ago.’
    • ‘"Don't be afraid to buy second-hand, " Phil says.’
    • ‘What really rubbed salt into the wound, was that some of the aircraft were even purchased secondhand.’
  • 2On the basis of what others have said; indirectly.

    ‘I was discounting anything I heard secondhand’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The hospitality I received cannot be experienced second-hand.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    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 downside of computer images is their presentation of Nature at second hand.’
      • ‘Also I hated all the mania, because I'd been through all that for many many years, albeit at second hand.’
      • ‘In the book he frequently describes important meetings at second hand.’
      • ‘Their influence on literature may be at second hand but is none the less important.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘His quotations from classical authors are taken mostly 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.’
      • ‘She had grown tired of experiencing life at second hand.’
      • ‘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.’
      indirectly, at second hand, on the bush telegraph, on the jungle telegraph
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