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See more synonyms for three on Thesaurus.com
  1. a cardinal number, 2 plus 1.
  2. a symbol for this number, as 3 or III.
  3. a set of this many persons or things.
  4. a playing card, die face, or half of a domino face with three pips.
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  1. amounting to three in number.
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  1. three sheets in the wind. sheet2(def 3).
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Origin of three

before 900; Middle English; Old English thrēo, thrīo, feminine and neuter of thrī(e); cognate with Dutch drie, German drei, Old Norse thrīr, Gothic threis, Greek treîs, Latin trēs three, ter thrice, Irish trí, OCS tri, Sanskrit trī, tráyas
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for three

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • You've been so devoted to her for three days that you've hardly bowed to old friends.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • For three days and three nights, Paralus remained in complete oblivion.


    Lydia Maria Child

  • Mina, (plural Minæ)—Four pounds, three shillings, four pence.


    Lydia Maria Child

  • Stater—A gold coin; estimated at about twelve shillings, three pence.


    Lydia Maria Child

  • Methought anon you saw me go down with three pikes in my breast.

    The Armourer's Prentices

    Charlotte M. Yonge

British Dictionary definitions for three


  1. the cardinal number that is the sum of two and one and is a prime numberSee also number (def. 1)
  2. a numeral, 3, III, (iii), representing this number
  3. the amount or quantity that is one greater than two
  4. something representing, represented by, or consisting of three units such as a playing card with three symbols on it
  5. Also called: three o'clock three hours after noon or midnight
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    1. amounting to threethree ships
    2. (as pronoun)three were killed
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Related formsRelated adjectives: ternary, tertiary, treble, tripleRelated prefixes: tri-, ter-

Word Origin

Old English thrēo; related to Old Norse thrīr, Old High German drī, Latin trēs, Greek treis
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for three


Old English þreo, fem. and neuter (masc. þri, þrie), from Proto-Germanic *thrijiz (cf. Old Frisian thre, Middle Dutch and Dutch drie, Old High German dri, German drei, Old Norse þrir, Danish tre), from PIE *tris- (cf. Sanskrit trayas, Avestan thri, Greek treis, Latin tres, Lithuanian trys, Old Church Slavonic trye, Irisn and Welsh tri "three").

3-D first attested 1952, abbreviation of three-dimensional (1878). Three-piece suit is recorded from 1909. Three cheers for ______ is recorded from 1751. Three-martini lunch is attested from 1972. Three-ring circus first recorded 1898. Three-sixty "complete turnaround" is from 1927, originally among aviators, in reference to the number of degrees in a full circle. Three musketeers translates French les trois mousquetaires, title of an 1844 novel by Alexandre Dumas père.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper