tertium quid (n.)
something indeterminate between two other things, 1724, Latin, literally "third something," from tertius "third, a third," from the root of tres "three" (see three). A loan-translation of Greek triton ti (Plato), used in alchemy for "unidentified element present in a combination of two known ones." The Latin word also figures in phrases tertium non datur "no third possibility exists," and tertius gaudens "a third party that benefits from conflict between the other two."
updated on January 21, 2014