See also: second guess

English edit

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Etymology edit

From trying to improve with a second stab. (This etymology is missing or incomplete. Please add to it, or discuss it at the Etymology scriptorium. Particularly: “Origins, derivations, history and antecedents.”)

Pronunciation edit

Verb edit

second-guess (third-person singular simple present second-guesses, present participle second-guessing, simple past and past participle second-guessed)

  1. (idiomatic) to vet or evaluate; to criticize or correct, often by hindsight, by presuming to have a better idea, method, etc.
    • 1946, someone, somewhere:
      I suppose anybody who keeps a diary and subsequently goes over it for publication has a tremendous temptation to second-guess and make himself look like an oracle.
    • 1957, United States Senate proceedings:
      As a practical matter, a fertilizer company could not afford to second-guess the Federal Trade Commission or a jury in a triple damage case on so obscure a point.
    • 1959, U.S. Court of Appeals proceedings:
      Public administration would be hamstrung if courts were free to second-guess reasonable administrative decisions.
    • 1995, someone, somewhere:
      MacGregor avoided this trap by refusing to give managers reporting to him the opportunity to second-guess the solution he would be most likely to choose.
    • 2003, Editing Today:
      If you suspect you've stepped over the line, ask a few other copy editors to second-guess your headline.
    Please don't try to second-guess the procedure that we have already refined and adopted.
    Once she began listening to her instincts and didn't second-guess herself the entire time, her artwork improved noticeably.
  2. To anticipate or predict someone's actions or thoughts by guesswork.
    • 2019 November 6, Dennis Fancett, Rail, page 54:
      But it is not Network Rail's job to second guess whether the sponsoring authority really does need the scheme, and whether it has looked at other options.

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