three, third


three, third
   By far the most widespread of the traditionally significant *numbers. It is a commonplace in folktales that persons and events are triplicated, the third of the set being often 'weighted' (the third brother the best, the third ogre the fiercest, the third casket the right one, etc.). In folk rhymes there is a fondness for groups of three ('triads'), with the third often lengthened to form a climax:
   Rub-a-dub-dub! Three men in a tub,
   The butcher, the baker, the candlestick-maker . . .
   One flew east, and one flew west, And one flew over the cuckoo's nest ...
   There is a common saying that 'deaths come in threes', or, less specifically, that 'all good/ bad things come in threes'; another is 'third time lucky', or 'third time pays for all'. In rituals of magic, luck, or healing, it is very frequent to find words or actions being repeated three times; the same is often true of prayers and religious gestures. These features appear throughout European tradition, for reasons unknown.

A Dictionary of English folklore. . 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • third — [[t]θɜrd[/t]] adj. 1) next after the second; being the ordinal number for three 2) being one of three equal parts 3) aum pertaining to the gear transmission ratio at which the drive shaft speed is next greater than that of second gear 4) graded… …   From formal English to slang

  • Third Orders — • Lay members of religious orders, i.e. men and women who do not necessarily live in community and yet can claim to wear the habit and participate in the good works of some great order Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Third Orders      …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Three strikes law — Three strikes laws are statutes enacted by state governments in the United States which require the state courts to hand down a mandatory and extended period of incarceration to persons who have been convicted of a serious criminal offense on… …   Wikipedia

  • Three-handed chess — is a family of chess variants specially designed to be played by three people. [cite book | author=Pritchard, D. | title=Popular Chess Variants|publisher=Bastford Chess Books | year=2000 | id=ISBN 0 7134 8578 7] There are many variations of three …   Wikipedia

  • Three Little Pigs — is a fairy tale featuring talking animals. Published versions of the story date back to the late 18th century, but the story is thought to be much older. The phrases used in the story, and the various morals which can be drawn from it, have… …   Wikipedia

  • Three-peat — is a portmanteau of the words three and repeat , which has been trademarked for commercial use by basketball coach Pat Riley. It is used either as a verb or noun used in American sports to refer to winning a third championship in a row.Origin and …   Wikipedia

  • Third Anglo-Maratha War — Date November 1817 – February 1818 Location The modern state of Maharashtra and neighbouring areas Result Formal end of the Maratha empire and firm establishment of the British East India Company i …   Wikipedia

  • Three on a Match (superstition) — Three on a match (also known as third on a match ) is a supposed superstition among soldiers during World War I. The superstition goes that if three soldiers lit their cigarettes from the same match, one of the three would be killed or that the… …   Wikipedia

  • third — (thûrd) n. 1. The ordinal number matching the number three in a series. 2. One of three equal parts. 3. Music a) An interval of three degrees in a diatonic scale. b) A tone separated by three degrees from a given tone, especially the third tone… …   Word Histories

  • Third — (th[ e]rd), a. [OE. thirde, AS. [thorn]ridda, fr. [thorn]r[=i], [thorn]re[ o], three; akin to D. derde third, G. dritte, Icel. [thorn]ri[eth]i, Goth. [thorn]ridja, L. tertius, Gr. tri tos, Skr. t[.r]t[=i]ya. See {Three}, and cf. {Riding} a… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English