sec·​ond·​hand | \ ˈse-kən(d)-ˈhand How to pronounce secondhand (audio) \

Definition of secondhand

 (Entry 1 of 4)

1a : received from or through an intermediary : borrowed
b : derivative secondhand ideas
2a : acquired after being used by another : not new secondhand books
b : dealing in secondhand merchandise a secondhand bookstore



Definition of secondhand (Entry 2 of 4)

1 : at second hand : indirectly heard about it secondhand
2 : as a secondhand item bought the couch secondhand

second hand

noun (1)
\ ˌse-kən(d)-ˈhand How to pronounce second hand (audio) \

Definition of second hand (Entry 3 of 4)

: an intermediate person or means : intermediary usually used in the phrase at second hand

second hand

noun (2)
\ ˈsek-ən(d)-ˌhand How to pronounce second hand (audio) \

Definition of second hand (Entry 4 of 4)

: the hand marking seconds on a timepiece

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms & Antonyms for secondhand

Synonyms: Adjective

derivative, secondary

Antonyms: Adjective

basic, original

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of secondhand in a Sentence


a dealer in secondhand furniture He's always haunting the secondhand shops for bargains.

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Buying something secondhand presents a much more affordable alternative, since most styles are sold between 50 and 90 percent off the original price. Halie Lesavage, Glamour, "More Brides Are Buying Used Wedding Dresses Than Ever Before," 1 May 2019 The market for secondhand clothing and accessories is going mainstream. Suzanne Kapner, WSJ, "Neiman Marcus Pushes Into Growing Market for ‘Preloved’ Handbags," 17 Apr. 2019 Relied upon for decades to depress growth in the government’s hiring of civil servants, federal contractors have become an auxiliary force that often does much of the same work as rank-and-file government staffers, but with secondhand job security. Neena Satija, The Seattle Times, "Federal contractors who lost health insurance during shutdown remain in limbo," 28 Jan. 2019 Moscow gave the secondhand jets to Serbia for free and the two that flew on Tuesday have undergone an extensive overhaul. Dusan Stojanovic, Fox News, "Serbia takes delivery of 2 Russian fighter jets," 21 Aug. 2018 Why not buy secondhand commercial tanker hulls for $25 to $50 million each (as opposed to $1.5 billion for a brand new destroyer) and then strap missile silos to the deck? Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Should the U.S. Navy Turn Merchant Ships into Floating Missile Magazines?," 10 Jan. 2019 Beyond what’s already in your closet, help slow down the fast-fashion train by buying less and buying thoughtfully. Opt for secondhand clothes instead of new ones, and be discerning about labels. Tabor Wordelman, Teen Vogue, "Your Yoga Pants Are Polluting the Water You Drink," 19 Dec. 2018 According toThe Mirror, the dress was donated to a secondhand store in Hereford by the housekeeper of Mynde Park estate, where Diana's close friend Caroline Twiston-Davies lived. Kayleigh Roberts, Marie Claire, "A Princess Diana Dress That Was Bought Used for £200 in 1994 Is Now On Sale for £100K," 2 Dec. 2018 Pieces are collected over time and are usually vintage, secondhand, or bought from local artisans. Sienna Fantozzi, House Beautiful, "Everything You Need To Know About Bohemian Design," 19 Oct. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

So grab the father figure in your life and get ready to either laugh or suffer from second hand embarrassment with some of these jokes. Tamara Fuentes, Seventeen, "25 Hilarious Dad Jokes That’ll Make You Die Laughing," 9 May 2019 However, this online community is also one of our favorite websites to find (or sell!) hidden fashion gems, whether vintage or second hand. Teen Vogue, "10 Etsy Shops Where You’ll Definitely Score The Best Vintage," 4 Apr. 2019 Sierra Nevada’s approach is fairly radical—the Air Force doesn’t like buying second hand planes, but the aircraft will essentially be new, inexpensive, and not saddled with older, more expensive to maintain systems. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "The Air Force Wants Helicopters to Help Defend Nuclear Missiles," 10 Aug. 2018 There was a case several years ago in which a homeowner sued their neighbor and the HOA regarding second hand smoke, and after weeks in court won a judgment (imagine the amount of attorney fees!). Kelly G. Richardson,, "HOA Homefront: Where there’s smoke, there may be unhappy neighbors," 23 June 2018 Smaller objects, like the second hand, orbit faster than the bigger ones. Jay Bennett, Popular Mechanics, "A New Study Could Explain Away Some Evidence for Planet Nine," 4 June 2018 As of this year, Rosebrough says there's no immediate plans for surgery on her second hand as injuries were far more severe. Charlene Santiago, star-telegram, "'We help them have a life that God desires for all man kind'," 26 June 2018 This was a person relaying second hand information that there was an affair, possibly a child resulting from an affair. Fox News, "Mixed media verdict on Syria bombing," 16 Apr. 2018 The timepiece is apparently in great shape despite its 50 years, and is also notable for having a unique red second hand rather than the standard stainless steel. Sam Parker, Esquire, "You Could Own James Bond's Rolex," 29 June 2016

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'secondhand.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of secondhand


1654, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1795, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun (1)

15th century, in the meaning defined above

Noun (2)

1759, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about secondhand

Statistics for secondhand

Last Updated

20 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for secondhand

The first known use of secondhand was in the 15th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for secondhand



English Language Learners Definition of secondhand

: having had a previous owner
: buying or selling things that have already been owned or used
: not original : taken from someone who was not directly involved


sec·​ond·​hand | \ ˌse-kənd-ˈhand How to pronounce secondhand (audio) \

Kids Definition of secondhand

1 : not new : having had a previous owner a secondhand automobile
2 : selling used goods a secondhand shop

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on secondhand

What made you want to look up secondhand? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


standardized text or formulaic language

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Finance Words Quiz

  • a-piggy-bank
  • The etymology of mortgage is related most closely to which two words?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!