second (adj.)

c. 1300, "next in order, place, time, etc., after the first; an ordinal numeral; being one of two equal parts into which a whole is regarded as divided;" from Old French second, secont, and directly from Latin secundus "following, next in time or order," also "secondary, subordinate, inferior," from PIE *sekw-ondo-, pariticipal form of root *sekw- "to follow."

It replaced native other in this sense because of the ambiguity of the earlier word. From late 14c. as "other, another" (as in "No Second Troy"), also "next in order in rank, quality, or importance."

Second sight is from 1610s; it presumably implies a second way of seeing in addition to the physical sight with the eyes, but it is etymologically perverse as it means the sight of events before, not after, they occur or are revealed. Second-degree in a general sense of "next to lowest on a scale of four" in Arostotelian qualities is from Middle English; in reference to burns, by 1890. Second fiddle is attested by 1809:

A metaphor borrowed from a musical performer who plays the second or counter to one who plays the first or the "air." [Bartlett, "Dictionary of Americanisms," 1848]

Latin secundus, tertius, etc. appended to personal names in English schools (to designate boys having the same surname by order of seniority) is attested by 1826s.

second (n.1)

"one-sixtieth of a minute of degree," also "sixtieth part of a minute of time," late 14c. in geometry and astronomy, seconde, from Old French seconde, from Medieval Latin secunda, short for secunda pars minuta "second diminished part," the result of the second division of the hour by sixty (the first being the "prime minute," now simply the minute), from Latin secunda, fem. of secundus "following, next in time or order" (see second (adj.)).

The second hand of a clock, the pointer indicating the passage of seconds, is attested by 1759.

second (v.)

1580s, "to support or represent (someone)," especially in a duel, pugilistic contest, etc., from French seconder, from Latin secundare "to assist, accommodate, direct favorably" (source also of Spanish segundar), from secundus "assisting, favorable; following, next in time or order" (see second (adj.)). The parliamentary sense is recorded by 1590s: "formally to express approval and support of (a motion, etc.) as a necessary preliminary to further discussion." Related: Seconded; seconding.

second (n.2)

early 14c., "the one next in order after another or the first," from second (adj.). Also compare Middle English seconde (n.) "one who is second in authority." As "assistant, supporter," especially "one who attends a principal in a duel or pugilistic contest," by 1580s (from second (v.)). As short for second base in U.S. baseball, by 1861.

updated on March 26, 2022

Definitions of second from WordNet
second (n.)
1/60 of a minute; the basic unit of time adopted under the Systeme International d'Unites;
Synonyms: sec / s
second (n.)
an indefinitely short time;
Synonyms: moment / mo / minute / bit
second (n.)
the fielding position of the player on a baseball team who is stationed near the second of the bases in the infield;
Synonyms: second base
second (n.)
a particular point in time;
Synonyms: moment / minute / instant
second (n.)
following the first in an ordering or series;
he came in a close second
second (n.)
a 60th part of a minute of arc;
the treasure is 2 minutes and 45 seconds south of here
Synonyms: arcsecond
second (n.)
the official attendant of a contestant in a duel or boxing match;
second (n.)
a speech seconding a motion;
do I hear a second?
second (n.)
the gear that has the second lowest forward gear ratio in the gear box of a motor vehicle;
he had to shift down into second to make the hill
Synonyms: second gear
second (n.)
merchandise that has imperfections; usually sold at a reduced price without the brand name;
Synonyms: irregular
second (v.)
give support or one's approval to;
I'll second that motion
Synonyms: back / endorse / indorse
second (v.)
transfer an employee to a different, temporary assignment;
The officer was seconded for duty overseas
second (adj.)
coming next after the first in position in space or time or degree or magnitude;
Synonyms: nd / d
second (adj.)
a part or voice or instrument or orchestra section lower in pitch than or subordinate to the first;
second flute
the second violins
second (adv.)
in the second place;
second, we must consider the economy
Synonyms: secondly
Etymologies are not definitions. From, not affiliated with etymonline.