Etymology
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third (adj., n.)

"next in order after the second; an ordinal numeral; being one of three equal parts into which a whole is regarded as divided;" late Old English metathesis of þridda, from Proto-Germanic *thridja- (source also of Old Frisian thredda, Old Saxon thriddio, Middle Low German drudde, Dutch derde, Old High German dritto, German dritte, Old Norse þriðe, Danish tredie, Swedish tredje, Gothic þridja), from PIE *tri-tyo- (source also of Sanskrit trtiyas, Avestan thritya, Greek tritos, Latin tertius (source of Italian terzo, Spanish tercio, French tiers), Old Church Slavonic tretiji, Lithuanian trečias, Old Irish triss, Welsh tryde), suffixed form of root *trei- (see three).

Metathesis of thrid into third is attested from c. 950 in Northumbrian (compare wright), but overall thrid was prevalent up to 16c. The noun meaning "third part of anything" is recorded from late 14c. Third rail in electric railway sense is recorded from 1890. Third World War as a possibility first recorded 1947. Third-rate "of poor quality" is from 1814, ultimately from classification of ships (1640s); third class in railway travel is from 1839. Third Reich (1930) is a partial translation of German drittes Reich (1923). Third party in law, insurance, etc., is from 1818.

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eye (n.)

c. 1200, from Old English ege (Mercian), eage (West Saxon) "eye; region around the eye; apperture, hole," from Proto-Germanic *augon (source also of Old Saxon aga, Old Frisian age, Old Norse auga, Swedish öga, Danish øie, Middle Dutch oghe, Dutch oog, Old High German ouga, German Auge, Gothic augo "eye"). Apparently the Germanic form evolved irregularly from PIE root *okw- "to see."

HAMLET: My father — methinks I see my father.
HORATIO: Where, my lord?
HAMLET: In my mind's eye, Horatio.

Until late 14c. the English plural was in -an, hence modern dialectal plural een, ene. Of potatoes from 1670s. Of peacock feathers from late 14c. As a loop used with a hook in fastening (clothes, etc.) from 1590s. The eye of a needle was in Old English. As "the center of revolution" of anything from 1760. Nautical in the wind's eye "in the direction of the wind" is from 1560s.

To see eye to eye is from Isaiah lii.8. Eye contact attested from 1953. To have (or keep) an eye on "keep under supervision" is attested from early 15c. To have eyes for "be interested in or attracted to" is from 1736; make eyes at in the romance sense is from 1837; gleam in (someone's) eye (n.) "barely formed idea" is from 1959. Eye-biter was an old name for "a sort of witch who bewitches with the eyes."

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eye (v.)

early 15c., "cause to see;" 1560s, "behold, observe," from eye (n.). Related: Eyed; eyeing.

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third degree (n.)

"intense interrogation by police," 1900, probably a reference to Third Degree of master mason in Freemasonry (1772), the conferring of which included an interrogation ceremony. Third degree as a measure of severity of burns (most severe) is attested from 1866, from French (1832); in American English, as a definition of the seriousness of a particular type of crime (the least serious type) it is recorded from 1865.

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eye-catching (adj.)

1799, from eye (n.) + present participle of catch (v.). Eye-catcher (n.) is from 1882, first in advertising; eye-trap (n.) is attested from 1785.

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eye-candy (n.)

also eye candy, "attractive woman on a TV show, etc.," by 1978, based on a metaphor also found in nose candy "cocaine" (1930).

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Third World (n.)

1963, from French tiers monde, formulated 1952 by French economic historian Alfred Sauvy (1898-1990) on model of the third estate (French tiers état) of Revolutionary France; his first world (The West) and second world (the Soviet bloc) never caught on.

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eye-tooth (n.)

also eyetooth, "upper canine tooth," 1570s, so called for its position immediately under or next to the eye. Compare German Augenzahn. Related: Eye-teeth.

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pink-eye (n.)

contagious eye infection, 1882, American English, from pink (adj.) + eye (n.). Earlier it meant "a small eye" (1570s).

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eye-drop (n.)

also eyedrop, 1590s, "tear," from eye (n.) + drop (n.). From 1938 as "a drop for the eye." Related: Eye-dropper.

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