Definition of third in English:


ordinal number

  • 1Constituting number three in a sequence; 3rd.

    ‘the third century’
    ‘the third of October’
    ‘Edward the Third’
    • ‘The first known European stringed instrument dates back to the third century.’
    • ‘The legend contends that Valentine served as a priest during third century Rome.’
    • ‘In the second and third centuries, the Church became institutionalised.’
    • ‘Two of the vehicles were burnt by the mob and the third was driven away.’
    • ‘What kind of training and preparation did you do for the sequences in the third film?’
    • ‘Surely that thought is a good enough companion as we take our first faltering steps into the new century and the third millennium.’
    • ‘The third article in this sequence will get involved with more peripheral points regarding general opening strategy.’
    • ‘The third century Egyptian St Apollonia is the patron saint of all things dental.’
    • ‘In the twentieth century, a third strand of citizenship, social citizenship, emerged.’
    • ‘I can't wait to see what he does with the inevitable third film in the sequence.’
    • ‘It was built in the third century BC in the time of King Pyrrhus of Epiros, but was remodelled by the Romans.’
    • ‘The day of love and romance dates back to the third century and a priest called Valentine.’
    • ‘The largest, carved in the third century AD, is thought to be the world's tallest standing Buddha.’
    • ‘From the third century onwards, the climate deteriorated steadily, becoming colder and wetter.’
    • ‘The Ramayana is believed to have been written by Valmiki in Sanskrit in the third century BC.’
    • ‘For one grand old North Yorkshire woman, the new Millennium saw the start of a third century of life.’
    • ‘He was born in Turkey sometime in the third century and was a Tribune in the Roman Army.’
    • ‘The company struggled to make a profit until the third quarter last year.’
    • ‘Found in the third century BC, the crocodile was respected by the Egyptians for its power and ferocity.’
    • ‘The precisionists inform us that we have only now entered the 21st century and the third Millennium.’
    1. 1.1The third finisher or position in a race or competition.
      ‘Hill finished third’
      • ‘The pair were eighth in the first race and finished third in race two.’
      • ‘Combined Services finished third in the competition last season and won the Flag the season before.’
      • ‘This season, a driver winning a race then coming third would find himself with the same points total as a driver coming second twice.’
      • ‘The team is unrecognisable from the one that finished third in the 1998 World Cup, though.’
      • ‘The six-year-old, no stranger to success on this course, ran a fine race to finish third here on Monday.’
      • ‘He was annoyed that he didn't do better in his last race because it was his easiest and he finished third.’
      • ‘She qualified easily on Saturday and ran a fine race to finish third in the semi-final.’
      • ‘However, when they finished third in the day's first race, the ninth in total, it seemed that nothing would stop them.’
      • ‘I started this race against the fastest in the world and finished third.’
      • ‘Our main concern now is Turkey, a team who has improved in leaps and bounds in recent years, and who also finished third in the World Cup.’
      • ‘The driver who finished third in the race also stayed at the residence.’
      • ‘This young team were runners-up in the cup competition and finished third in the league.’
      • ‘It is only a few years since Croatia shook the football world by finishing third in the World Cup in France.’
      • ‘She finished third in the heptathlon on Saturday but she wanted more.’
      • ‘He said he wasn't feeling too disappointed that he could only finish third in the end.’
      • ‘The three-year-old ran a creditable race to finish third on this course a fortnight ago.’
      • ‘He finished a clear third, a point and a half behind the leaders.’
      • ‘The men finished an impressive third behind the powerful Liverpool and Gateshead clubs.’
      • ‘To finish third in an extremely competitive class for cars up to 1400 cc was also a very satisfying award to win.’
      • ‘Steven finished the second race third and accompanied his teammate onto the podium.’
    2. 1.2The third in a sequence of a vehicle's gears.
      ‘he took the corner in third’
      • ‘Before you know it a gear change is required, up to third and the car is travelling far faster than strictly necessary.’
      • ‘The gearbox is easy to use and blasting around the B roads in second and third really was rather good fun.’
      • ‘In third or fourth, torque is plentiful, yet the ride is smooth and serene.’
      • ‘Then we hit a stretch that was both dry and clear of traffic, so it was down into third and hard on the accelerator.’
      • ‘Fifth gear, fourth, third - a good car will make it with a little to spare.’
      • ‘Today I made a small mistake when I selected fourth gear instead of third on a corner.’
      • ‘I shifted down to third, then second gear, wondering what would happen if I had to stop.’
      • ‘It fires its way through first, second and third with a savageness that's terrifyingly addictive.’
    3. 1.3Baseball Third base.
      • ‘The pitcher threw the ball and with a sharp crack, James hit a line drive to third.’
      • ‘The runners on second and third held their base for the purpose of tagging up and advancing.’
      • ‘He makes them a more dynamic team, with his ability to steal bases and go from first to third on base hits.’
      • ‘He was sent to third but missed second base en route and was called out on appeal.’
      • ‘Since when do base runners not go from first to third on a single to right field?’
    4. 1.4British The third form of a school or college.
      • ‘When you're a third grade kid with a bad case of hero worship, you don't see beyond the hero himself.’
      • ‘Mary Long, a petite third grade teacher, sighed as the last of her class left for the weekend.’
      • ‘Rita slumped over on her desk wondering why this man was teaching third grade math to fifth graders.’
      • ‘I've been playing the piano and guitar since I was in the third grade and I turn 38 later this year.’
      • ‘By the third grade, it became obvious that learning was more than an average challenge for her.’
      • ‘His third grade teacher adored the book and forced the class to read the book.’
      • ‘In third grade, we had a debate over whether Mondale or Reagan should be President.’
      • ‘It's been that way since I wore a yellow shirt and a baseball cap in third grade.’
      • ‘The first time my Dad took me along I was in the third grade and the salmon was the same size as me.’
      • ‘It had all started when she had entered the third grade at a new school.’
      • ‘It seeks to ensure that children can read independently, at grade level by the third grade.’
      • ‘That was in third grade and I didn't like boys back then, but as soon as I hit seventh grade I couldn't get enough of Nash.’
      • ‘Does anyone really need to know about a spelling bee I attended in the third grade?’
      • ‘From as early as the third grade, Kimberly knew she wanted to earn a doctoral degree.’
      • ‘In the afternoon, there are extracurricular activities for those who are in second and third grade.’
      • ‘He moved to Oakville, Ontario when he was three and then moved to New Jersey after the third grade.’
      • ‘If third-grade students did not pass the test, they would be retained in third grade.’
      • ‘I looked at him quizzically and ran over the list of people that were in my third grade class.’
      • ‘I can't help but think remarks such as that wore themselves out in the third grade.’
      • ‘We had known each other since third grade when he moved to my school district.’
    5. 1.5Thirdly (used to introduce a third point or reason)
      ‘second, they are lightly regulated; and third, they do business with non-resident clients’
    6. 1.6British A place in the third grade in an examination, especially that for a degree.
  • 2Each of three equal parts into which something is or may be divided.

    ‘a third of a mile’
    • ‘The districts were ranked ordered according to size and then divided into thirds.’
    • ‘The design ream took about a third of its resources and put them toward the concept vehicle gamble.’
    • ‘Excessive speed is a contributory factor in a third of accidents.’
    • ‘One third of their highway patrol vehicles are unmarked, and most of the marked cars don't have a roof rack.’
    • ‘Place one third of the berries over the first layer of bread and add a second layer of sliced bread.’
    • ‘Early retirement and voluntary redundancy programs reduced the work force by a third.’
    • ‘All the tanks have filters, but a third of them were dirty or clogged and needed replacement.’
    • ‘In 30 years they drove a third of the population from their homes in their battle with the government.’
    • ‘The final third of the movie switches gears and treads into horror film spoof territory.’
    • ‘In fact, only a third of Japanese college grads found full-time employment last year.’
    • ‘Being more likely to have cars, nearly a third of top-earning parents drive their children to school.’
    • ‘The garden stretches for two thirds of a mile at its longest point and is around one third of a mile wide.’
    • ‘He says that the City's roads can handle only about a third of this traffic.’
    • ‘Pregnancy is often divided into trimesters or thirds.’
    • ‘Almost half of the primary age children said they ate fresh fruit on most days and more than a third said they ate vegetables on most days.’
    • ‘The college has repeatedly acted illegally toward a third of its former faculty members.’
    • ‘Headteachers say a survey claiming a third of teachers are on the edge of quitting is overstating the problem.’
    • ‘A third of fatal accidents involved single vehicles, mainly as a result of speeding and or alcohol.’
    • ‘Here you have a World Championships and only about a third of the athletes performed at their personal best.’
    • ‘A local farmer, who asked not to be named, said he lived within a third of a mile of one of the turbines, but it caused little disruption to his life.’
  • 3Music
    An interval spanning three consecutive notes in a diatonic scale, e.g. C to E (major third, equal to two tones) or A to C (minor third, equal to a tone and a semitone).

    • ‘Musically, he used three or four short notes followed by upward-reaching intervals, usually minor thirds or fourths.’
    • ‘He also tends to emphasize and worry a few intervals as he constructs themes - in this case, a major second and a minor third.’
    • ‘It operates effectively at a much more basic level - that of characteristic intervals and gestures, particularly the downward major sixth and (its isomer) the upward minor third.’
    • ‘The second symphony, formally cast in two large movements, plays with two initial motifs, a falling major third with a scalar rise back to the initial note and an insistent rhythm on one note.’
    • ‘The first movement explores the melodic and structural implications of the minor third, much like the first movement of Adams's violin concerto.’
    1. 3.1The note which is higher by a third than the tonic of a diatonic scale or root of a chord.
      • ‘If she couldn't play thirds quick enough, he told her to use less pressure.’
      • ‘Most of us are so used to the full-voiced chords, it is actually tricky to play the thirds and fourths in the right hand and single notes in the left.’
      • ‘Several selections contain strings of double notes, primarily thirds and sixths.’
      • ‘It's a row you can hum, for it emphasizes thirds and fourths, rather than seconds and tritones.’


Old English thridda, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch derde and German dritte, also to three. The spelling thrid was dominant until the 16th century (but thirdda is recorded in Northumbrian dialect as early as the 10th century).