What does the idiom "on second thoughts" mean?

Are you using the idiom on second thoughts but not sure about its meaning? Using idioms, which are important elements of spoken and written language, in the right place strengthens your language skills. Examine the meaning of the on second thoughts idiom and the situations in which it is used.

Meaning of "on second thoughts"


The idiom ‘on second thoughts’ is used to express a change of opinion or idea, usually caused by a reconsideration of the evidence or arguments available. It implies that someone has had time to reflect on their initial thought or idea, before deciding upon a different conclusion.


The first use of the phrase comes from Middle English, when it was used as ‘on second thought’. The phrase has been around since the 15th century and can be found in literature such as ‘The Divine Comedy’, written in 1372. The idiom is thought to have been adapted from the Latin phrase secundis consiliis, which means ‘with the help of a second consultation’.


The phrase ‘on second thoughts’ is typically used to suggest a change of opinion. It is often used in situations where someone has taken time to reconsider their view, before deciding upon a different conclusion. It is also used to suggest a new way of looking at something, or to introduce a fresh perspective on a topic.

Example Sentences

  • On second thoughts, I think I’ll stay home tonight.
  • On second thoughts, perhaps we should wait until tomorrow to make a decision.
  • On second thoughts, maybe you should come with me to the meeting.
  • On second thoughts, I don’t think that’s the best way to solve the problem.

The meanings of the words in the "on second thoughts" idiom

Beyond the Literal: Figurative Language in Idioms

Idioms often use figurative language to convey a message that is not meant to be taken literally. For instance, the idiom "bite the bullet" means to endure a painful or difficult situation without complaint, while "hold your horses" means to be patient and wait. Other idioms, like "kick the bucket" or "pop your clogs," use euphemisms to talk about death.


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