sec·​ond-guess ˌse-kᵊŋ-ˈges How to pronounce second-guess (audio)
second-guessed; second-guessing; second-guesses

transitive verb

: to criticize or question actions or decisions of (someone) often after the results of those actions or decisions are known
meet almost every morning and, over coffee, second-guess the local coachBruce Newman
also : to engage in such criticism of (an action or decision)
second-guess the general's strategy
: to seek to anticipate or predict
lived royally by his ability to second-guess the stock marketTime
second-guesser noun

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web There was no time to — No time to second-guess yourself. Or let that fear settle in. Vulture, 22 May 2023 The news also drew the attention of a far smaller number of commenters chiming in to say a performer should not be second-guessing security during a show. Chris Willman, Variety, 14 May 2023 Their expertise can save you the time and headache of second-guessing a large purchase — or steer you away from an ill-fitting piece from the start. Ryan Conner, Dallas News, 11 May 2023 But Gorsuch argued the court did not have such authority to second-guess the states and their voters, especially when there was no claim of protectionism. David G. Savage, Los Angeles Times, 11 May 2023 The Impoundment Control Act had cleared up any ambiguity about whether the president had the power to second-guess congressional appropriations. Timothy Noah, The New Republic, 10 May 2023 Cariuma x Pantone Oca Low in Capri Canvas, $89; The Oca Low style often has long waitlists — recently there was one with 77,000 shoppers on it — so don't waste any time second-guessing these must-have summer sneakers. Alyssa Grabinski, Peoplemag, 4 May 2023 Related: Jeremy Swayman takes over for Linus Ullmark in the Bruins’ net to make a second Game 7 start Montgomery will be second-guessed all summer for his line juggling, his reluctance to change out his goalies, and his inability to help his team find a foothold in what became fast-crumbling sand. Kevin Paul Dupont,, 1 May 2023 Multiplicity is important to Anarumo as he's known for his ability to keep his opponent second-guessing. Cincinnati Enquirer, The Enquirer, 28 Apr. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'second-guess.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1941, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of second-guess was in 1941

Dictionary Entries Near second-guess

Cite this Entry

“Second-guess.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Jun. 2023.

Kids Definition


: to question or criticize actions or decisions of (someone) often after the results of those actions or decisions are known
second-guesser noun

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