Definition of three in English:

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Pronunciation: /THrē/

cardinal number

1Equivalent to the sum of one and two; one more than two; 3: her three children a crew of three a three-bedroom house all three of them are buried there (Roman numeral: iii, III)
More example sentences
  • The team operates a rota system and on any night there will be three members of staff on duty who will be on hand to help people in crisis.
  • In the recent past at least three large houses in the road have been given permission for redevelopment as flats.
  • He has been one of Britain's top jockeys for the past two to three years.
1.1A group or unit of three people or things: students clustered in twos or threes
More example sentences
  • Being a firm believer in the superstition that bad things always come in threes, I would like to start a pool to bet on what will be the third trusted cultural institution to implode in a dramatic and messy way.
  • Worries that bad luck always comes in threes were soon proved well-founded when a third cast member phoned to say he had also injured his ankle.
  • But, you know what they say: bad things always come in threes.
trio, threesome, triple, triad, trinity, troika, triumvirate, trilogy, triptych, trefoil, three-piece, triplets
1.2Three years old: she is only three
More example sentences
  • In fact, there is no evidence that tonsils or adenoids are important after the age of three.
  • Andy, who also played the drums and keyboard, had suffered from asthma and a nut allergy since the age of three.
  • Suitable for children aged three and upwards it conforms with European safety regulations.
1.3Three o’clock: I’ll come at three
More example sentences
  • So at half past three we had the fun of trying to get back to civilisation.
  • You are having breakfast in the evening and lunch at three in the morning.
  • Nominally Elliot's goal was game over, but you could probably have said that at quarter past three.
1.4A size of garment or other merchandise denoted by three.
Example sentences
  • As hard as I try, my feet just won't fit into those size threes, though I'd very much like them to, if not for style then for tax saving purposes.
  • Footballs and rugby balls must be a size three or smaller and can only be used within the tennis courts.
1.5A playing card or domino with three pips.
Example sentences
  • Some players allow the pairs hand to include sevens or aces but never threes or wild cards.
  • When melding black threes in the process of going out, it is permissible to meld two black threes and a wild card.
  • Bonuses for red threes and canastas do not count towards this minimum - it must be achieved by means of the value of the cards in the meld.


Old English thrīe (masculine), thrīo, thrēo (feminine), of Germanic origin; related to Dutch drie and German drei, from an Indo-European root shared by Latin tres and Greek treis.

  • This shares an ancient root with Latin tres and Greek treis. Three inseparable friends may be called the three musketeers. The original three musketeers were Athos, Porthos, and Aramis, whose motto was ‘One for all, and all for one’. They appear in the 1844 novel Les Trois Mousquetaires by Alexandre Dumas père. The expression the third degree for long and harsh questioning by the police is American, recorded from the beginning of the 20th century. Perhaps in reference to the Holy Trinity, three is traditionally a lucky number, and this is reflected in third time lucky, used to suggest that someone should make another effort after initial failure. Third time is the charm is an American version of this saying. The same idea is probably present in the saying the third time pays for all, meaning that success after initial failure makes up for earlier disappointment. Threescore is an old-fashioned way of saying ‘sixty’. According to the Bible, ‘The days of our age are threescore years and ten.’ (Psalm 90). See also sheet

Words that rhyme with three

absentee, açai, addressee, adoptee, agree, allottee, amputee, appellee, appointee, appraisee, après-ski, assignee, asylee, attendee, bailee, bain-marie, Bangui, bargee, bawbee, be, Bea, bee, bootee, bouquet garni, bourgeoisie, Brie, BSc, buckshee, Capri, cc, chimpanzee, cohabitee, conferee, consignee, consultee, Cree, debauchee, decree, dedicatee, Dee, degree, deportee, dernier cri, detainee, devisee, devotee, divorcee, draftee, dree, Dundee, dungaree, eau-de-vie, emcee, employee, endorsee, en famille, ennui, enrollee, escapee, esprit, evacuee, examinee, expellee, fee, fiddle-de-dee, flea, flee, fleur-de-lis, foresee, franchisee, free, fusee (US fuzee), Gardaí, garnishee, gee, ghee, glee, goatee, grandee, Grand Prix, grantee, Guarani, guarantee, he, HMRC, indictee, inductee, internee, interviewee, invitee, jamboree, Jaycee, jeu d'esprit, key, knee, Lea, lee, legatee, Leigh, lessee, Ley, licensee, loanee, lychee, manatee, Manichee, maquis, Marie, marquee, me, Midi, mortgagee, MSc, nominee, obligee, Otomi, parolee, Parsee, parti pris, patentee, Pawnee, payee, pea, pee, permittee, plc, plea, pledgee, pollee, presentee, promisee, quay, ratatouille, referee, refugee, releasee, repartee, retiree, returnee, rupee, scot-free, scree, sea, secondee, see, settee, Shanxi, Shawnee, shchi, she, shea, si, sirree, ski, spree, standee, suttee, tant pis, tea, tee, tee-hee, Tennessee, testee, the, thee, thuggee, Tiree, Torquay, trainee, Tralee, transferee, tree, Trincomalee, trustee, tutee, twee, Twi, undersea, vestee, vis-à-vis, wagon-lit, Waikiki, warrantee, we, wee, whee, whoopee, ye, yippee, Zuider Zee

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: three

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