A second may be one-sixtieth of a minute or the item after first. If you ask whether you're second in line, the hostess might reply, "Give me a second and I'll tell you."

Different meanings of the word second have evolved from the same background, which is the Latin word secundus, which means "next" or "following." Many of the meanings of second follow that idea of a linear "next," including "second base" (comes after "first base"). Back when duels were commonly fought, each dueler chose a second, a friend whose job it was to see that the fight followed the rules. You might have second thoughts about entering a duel, and rightfully so.

Definitions of second
  1. adjective
    coming next after the first in position in space or time or degree or magnitude
    synonyms: 2d, 2nd
    being or denoting a numerical order in a series
  2. noun
    following the first in an ordering or series
    “he came in a close second
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    the second of two or the second mentioned of two
    type of:
    relative status
  3. noun
    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
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    type of:
    (in team sports) the role assigned to an individual player
  4. noun
    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
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    type of:
    gear, gear mechanism
    a mechanism for transmitting motion for some specific purpose (as the steering gear of a vehicle)
  5. adverb
    in the second place
    second, we must consider the economy”
    synonyms: secondly
  6. noun
    1/60 of a minute; the basic unit of time adopted under the Systeme International d'Unites
    synonyms: s, sec
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    leap second
    a second (as measured by an atomic clock) added to or subtracted from Greenwich Mean Time in order to compensate for slowing in the Earth's rotation
    type of:
    time unit, unit of time
    a unit for measuring time periods
  7. noun
    a particular point in time
    synonyms: instant, minute, moment
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    climax, culmination
    the decisive moment in a novel or play
    eleventh hour, last minute
    the latest possible moment
    moment of truth
    a crucial moment on which much depends
    moment of truth
    the moment in a bullfight when the matador kills the bull
    a very brief moment
    a suitable moment
    psychological moment
    the most appropriate time for achieving a desired effect
    the moment in a literary work when a character makes a startling or critical discovery
    high time
    the latest possible moment
    the time of a particular event
    type of:
    point, point in time
    an instant of time
  8. noun
    an indefinitely short time
    synonyms: bit, minute, mo, moment
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    New York minute, blink of an eye, flash, heartbeat, instant, jiffy, split second, trice, twinkling, wink
    a very short time (as the time it takes the eye to blink or the heart to beat)
    type of:
    an indefinite period (usually marked by specific attributes or activities)
  9. noun
    a 60th part of a minute of arc
    “the treasure is 2 minutes and 45 seconds south of here”
    synonyms: arcsecond
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    type of:
    angular unit
    a unit of measurement for angles
  10. noun
    the official attendant of a contestant in a duel or boxing match
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    type of:
    attendant, attender, tender
    someone who waits on or tends to or attends to the needs of another
  11. noun
    a speech seconding a motion
    “do I hear a second?”
    synonyms: endorsement, indorsement, secondment
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    type of:
    the verbal act of agreeing
  12. verb
    give support or one's approval to
    “I'll second that motion”
    synonyms: back, endorse, indorse
    back, endorse, indorse, plump for, plunk for, support
    be behind; approve of
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    type of:
    back up, support
    give moral or psychological support, aid, or courage to
  13. noun
    merchandise that has imperfections; usually sold at a reduced price without the brand name
    synonyms: irregular
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    type of:
    merchandise, product, ware
    commodities offered for sale
  14. adjective
    a part or voice or instrument or orchestra section lower in pitch than or subordinate to the first
    second flute”
    “the second violins”
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    highest in pitch or chief among parts or voices or instruments or orchestra sections
  15. verb
    transfer an employee to a different, temporary assignment
    “The officer was seconded for duty overseas”
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    type of:
    reassign, transfer
    transfer somebody to a different position or location of work
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