Definition of triad in English:



  • 1A group or set of three connected people or things.

    ‘the triad of medication, diet, and exercise are necessary in diabetes care’
    • ‘Police sources say part of the racket was connected to so-called ‘car parking jockeys’ - triads who take payments to park restaurant diners' cars - who wanted ‘compensation’ for the use of parking spaces.’
    • ‘While they can all occur independently, the interrelationship between the three parts of the triad is such that one component will affect another.’
    • ‘In dealing with financial topics, James Surowiecki exhibits, without showing off, a rare triad of journalistic attributes: intelligence, style and conscience.’
    • ‘She is also a psychotherapist in San Francisco who works with couples, triads and other forms of alternative families.’
    • ‘This triad is the area within the psyche that is capable of self-consciousness and choice.’
    • ‘She frequently risks the reprimand of her more zealous colleagues by allowing students to talk quietly in pairs or triads while moving through the school.’
    • ‘It is unlikely that the Irish needed explanation of the concept of three persons in one, as triads were central to pre-Christian Celtic religious tradition.’
    • ‘The consistency of responses can be measured by the number of circular triads in the individual's dominant preference order of the choice set elements.’
    • ‘Bundles are then arranged in pairs or triads, and respondents asked to choose between them and some status quo alternative.’
    • ‘Although a triad arrangement of images seems possible for images of this size, the iconographic basis he offers is highly unusual and the proposal seems forced.’
    • ‘Even more fundamental to the old man-young man-woman triad is the connection between age and passion.’
    • ‘Certain basic configurations are apparent in the composition of triads of images.’
    • ‘There are several other examples of these Buddhist triads in the exhibit.’
    • ‘The information assurance triad is composed of authentication, integrity and confidentiality.’
    • ‘Civilization's interest in controlling waste function does not automatically produce a concomitant interest in the Freudian triad of cleanliness, order, and beauty.’
    • ‘Rotman textually embodies mathematical practice by delineating a triad of subject-positions.’
    • ‘In short, allocation of elements within the mobility triad is fragmented and stovepiped and needs a quick fix to achieve efficiency.’
    • ‘Set out in order are first the units, then the pairs, the triads, and so forth, up to groups of eleven.’
    • ‘This sequence showed variability in pairs and triads of days without including three H or L consecutive days.’
    • ‘The book thus investigates a triad of subjects: history of doctrines, technologies, and experiments.’
    1. 1.1 A chord of three musical notes, consisting of a given note with the third and fifth above it.
      • ‘This basic introduction also excludes triads and arpeggios.’
      • ‘For flat keys, again begin with the last flat and form a major triad with that note as the root.’
      • ‘The difference is that Beethoven lifts the upper two notes of the triad, leaving the bass to follow belatedly, while Elgar jacks up the bass first, and the upper notes follow.’
      • ‘The third of a triad may be emphasized above its root or fifth to create a ‘sweeter’ quality in a dolce passage.’
      • ‘Included are the fundamentals of harmony, such as intervals, triads, chords, modulation and so on.’
    2. 1.2 A Welsh form of literary composition with an arrangement of subjects or statements in groups of three.
      • ‘Saint Teilo is associated in Welsh triads with Saints David and Cadoc as one of the Three Blessed Visitors to the Isle of Britain.’
      • ‘The Triads are a peculiar species of poetical composition, of which the Welsh bards have left numerous examples.’
      • ‘As four of these are found in the Black Book of Caermarthen the authority for these is older than for any other of the Triads.’
      • ‘Occasionally the reader is treated to a rare triad of Welsh wisdom from the ancient and fragile Grey Book of Glynsabon.’
  • 2A secret society originating in China, typically involved in organized crime.

    • ‘Some have criminal records, but police say there is no indication they are linked to triads.’
    • ‘I reckon most of the triads in this city would be involved with the Council in some way.’
    • ‘In another example, he said that money laundering laws enacted under the criminal code in 1997 were confined to just three criminal offences - the proceeds from drug trafficking, smuggling, and triads.’
    • ‘The police calculated that since the triads were a fact of life in Macau, allowing them to be involved in gaming credit was better than throwing them out in the streets where they might resort to more harmful crimes.’
    • ‘The joint operation had been aimed at a triad gang faction which was thought to be monopolising the illicit fuel trade.’
    • ‘There was no apparent motive for the attack and the drivers say they have not been blackmailed or threatened by triads.’
    • ‘Since the triads dealt with him so viciously, I believe that he was exceptional in fulfilling the duties of a journalist and that was why he was hated.’
    • ‘The director of the Human Rights Monitor, Law Yuk-kai, said: ‘We believe that the Ministry of State Security and Hong Kong triads are collaborating in this political violence and intimidation.’’
    • ‘The police arrested about 50 triad members for the crime of illegal assembly.’
    • ‘The mergers transformed the landscape for triads and began the process of turning them into potent political and economic forces.’
    • ‘The new father was a former boss of a Chinese triad gang, and all his fellow gangsters were bound to show up.’
    • ‘They're involved in triads, in the Mafia, all these groups.’
    • ‘Police allege the seven men are connected to triads, and that one is a wanted person.’
    • ‘They want the triads out but, with the exception of recent immigrants from China, they want to keep certain ‘privileges.’’
    • ‘Instead of prostitutes soliciting customers on the streets and then taking them to their flats, triads are now leasing flats as reception centres where customers can choose girls from a selection of photos.’
    • ‘The second evil force refers to the triad organizations on mainland China.’
    • ‘Try this idea: the cops and the triads are at war in Hong Kong, and although the cops have a mole in the triad camp, the triads also have a mole in the police camp.’
    • ‘The upshot of all this was that he had come to the attention of one of the main triad gangs.’
    • ‘According to the Independent Commission Against Corruption, the arrests are related to a police investigation into a case of criminal damage and extortion by triads.’
    • ‘My boss had managed to offend the local triads.’
    1. 2.1 A member of a Triad.
      • ‘There are also other triads who are more concerned with their health and family than criminal matters.’
      • ‘Youngsters end up wandering on the streets as they have nowhere to go, making it easy for the triads to recruit young members.’


Mid 16th century: from French triade, or via late Latin from Greek trias, triad-, from treis ‘three’. Sense 2 is a translation of Chinese San Ho Hui, literally ‘three unite society’, i.e. ‘triple union society’, said to mean ‘the union of Heaven, Earth, and Man’.