"second-hand"--(possible blend)

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at RCI.RUTGERS.EDU
Sat Jan 22 22:14:05 UTC 2005

On Sat, 22 Jan 2005 16:54:58 -0500, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>

>At 3:00 PM -0600 1/22/05, Cohen, Gerald Leonard wrote:
>>Original message from Jonathan Lighter, Jan. 21, 2005:
>>>  Around 1979 I heard a student using "second-hand" to mean "second
>>>nature" : "You keep doing it till it becomes second-hand."
>>>  Since then I've heard this many times. [...]
>>         *********
>>This may be a blend:
>>"...until it becomes second nature" + "until you know it like the
>>back of your hand."
>Is the latter clearly involved?  I'd certainly think that besides the
>meaning of "second nature", the existence of "second-hand" is
>relevant.  The sense of 'at one remove' is common to both, albeit in
>somewhat different ways:  the standard term "second-hand" is glossed
>'Not original or obtained from the original source' which seems not
>that distant in meaning from 'second nature':  If you learn something
>second-hand and absorb it, it becomes second nature to you.
>"know...like the back of one's hand" may be involved, but I don't see
>it as necessary.

Perhaps this usage of "second-hand" is better understood as a shortened
form of "second-hand nature".  Google throws up dozens of examples...

As we get older and cooking becomes second hand nature it's easy to forget
all of the skills that it takes to cook.

Technique needs to be second hand nature.

As you gain experience teaching, you will find this becomes second-hand
http://www.teach-nology.com/forum/ showthread.php?t=288&page=1

At first counting calories may seem weird or out of place, but after a
short while, it will become second hand nature to you.

"She tried it and it was like second hand nature to her," said Carol
Miller, Allison's mother.

Once you get it setup and play with it for about an hour it'll be second
hand nature.

It's second hand nature now, but I was definitely a nervous beginner.

In fact, it's second-hand nature to the Brisbane, Australia native.
http://projects.jou.ufl.edu/ktrammell/ project1/ball/greenland2.htm

In 2008 most of them will have it down and by 2012, it will be second-hand

A lot of these players don't know NBA sets and personnel in a second-hand
nature. That only comes with experience.

We wrote a novel together, a 22-page baseball novel in sixth grade. So
it's kind of second-hand nature for us.

She looks at non-places, rubble tips, shopping malls and overgrown
concrete deserts, shows a second-hand nature human beings have to fit in,
adapt to, and - survive in.

Therefore, talking to student affairs offices is now second hand nature to

As we submit ourselves to Him, surrender our wants/desires, and allow His
desires to become our own, then God's will, will become second hand
nature. http://www.fallennotforsaken.com/nickandbrittany/

You just need to practice drawing hands from life and it will become
*ahem* second hand nature.
http://elfwood.lysator.liu.se/ art/y/h/yhchang/carnelia.gif.html

It's a very valuable project because these children are going to be adults
soon and it's good to set good habits now, so they become second hand
nature in life.

Once you do a couple billion (exaggeration) of these youÂ’ll get the hang
of it, and, inshallah, it will become second hand nature to you.

--Ben Zimmer

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