1. an old measure of capacity equivalent to one third of a pipe, or 42 wine gallons.
  2. a cask or vessel holding this quantity.
  3. Also terce. Ecclesiastical. the third of the seven canonical hours, or the service for it, originally fixed for the third hour of the day (or 9 a.m.).
  4. Fencing. the third of eight defensive positions.
  5. Piquet. a sequence of three cards of the same suit, as an ace, king, and queen (tierce major), or a king, queen, and jack (tierce minor).
  6. Obsolete. a third or third part.

Origin of tierce

1325–75; Middle English < Middle French, feminine of tiers < Latin tertius third
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for tierce

Historical Examples of tierce

British Dictionary definitions for tierce


  1. a variant of terce
  2. the third of eight basic positions from which a parry or attack can be made in fencing
  3. (tɜːs) cards a sequence of three cards in the same suit
  4. an obsolete measure of capacity equal to 42 wine gallons

Word Origin for tierce

C15: from Old French, feminine of tiers third, from Latin tertius
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 tierce

old unit of measure equal to one-third of a pipe (42 gallons), 1530s, from Anglo-French ters, Old French tierce, from Latin tertia, fem. of tertius "a third," from root of tres "three" (see three). Also used in Middle English for "a third part" (late 15c.), "the third hour of the canonical day" (ending at 9 a.m.), late 14c., and, in astronomy and geometry, "sixtieth part of a second of an arc."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper