Here in New York City, the phrases next-to-last and second-to-last appear to be used synonymously. That is, I seem to hear “second-to-last” instead of “next-to-last“. That’s not what I learned, growing up in Virginia. To my understanding, next-to-last and second-to-last mean different things: in the sequence, “A, B, C, D”, the last item is D, the next-to-last is C, and the second-to-last (or second-from-last) is B. In other words, C is one item away from the last, and B is two items away (i.e., the second item) from last.
I can see a certain logic in the other usage: Counting from the last item, D is first, and C is second. But that doesn’t seem idiomatic to me. Obviously, however, it is in New York City. Does it vary regionally? A quick search of the Internet shows both usages, but doesn’t indicate any basis for the variation. What do you think, Dear Reader?