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-lastinstead 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?

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