What Does “Double Take” Mean?

Discover the meaning and etymology of the idiom double take, and explore examples of how it is used to express surprise or recognition. Synonyms include second glance and twice-taken look.

Definition and Origin

Double take is an idiom that refers to a delayed reaction to a surprising or significant situation after an initial failure to notice anything unusual.

It is a common expression that is used to describe the act of looking twice at something or someone because of a sudden recognition or surprise.

Lexical Meaning

The lexical meaning of double take refers to the act of looking twice at something or someone due to a sudden recognition or surprise.

It is a common expression used when someone is taken aback or shocked by something they see or hear.


The origin of the term double take is unclear, but it is believed to have originated in the United States in the early 20th century.

The term is thought to have been derived from the phrase “take two,” which was used in the film industry to indicate that a scene needed to be filmed twice.

Are “Double Take” and “My Better Half” Idioms Related to Each Other?

“Double Take” and “My Better Half” may seem unrelated, but both idioms revolve around perceptions and understanding of others.

While “Double Take” refers to a sudden second look due to surprise or confusion, “My Better Half” describes an endearing term for one’s spouse or partner.

Despite their different meanings, both idioms share a common theme: our interpretation and comprehension of people and concepts in our lives.

Translation Across Languages

The idiom double take has been translated into many different languages.

In Polish, it is known as “podwójne spojrzenie,” in Turkish as “ikinci bakış,” and in Russian as “двойное впечатление.” Despite the differences in the translations, the meaning remains the same across languages.

Example Sentences

  • She did a double take when she saw her ex-boyfriend walking down the street with his new girlfriend.
  • The actor’s performance was so convincing that the audience did a double take when he revealed his true identity.
  • The politician’s controversial statement caused many people to do a double take and question their support for him.


  • Second glance
  • Second look
  • Twice-taken look