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.

updated on June 23, 2019

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Definitions of third from WordNet
1
third (n.)
one of three equal parts of a divisible whole;
it contains approximately a third of the minimum daily requirement
Synonyms: one-third / tierce
third (n.)
the fielding position of the player on a baseball team who is stationed near the third of the bases in the infield (counting counterclockwise from home plate);
he is playing third
Synonyms: third base
third (n.)
following the second position in an ordering or series;
he answered the first question willingly, the second reluctantly, and the third with resentment
a distant third
third (n.)
the musical interval between one note and another three notes away from it;
a simple harmony written in major thirds
third (n.)
the third from the lowest forward ratio gear in the gear box of a motor vehicle;
you shouldn't try to start in third gear
Synonyms: third gear
third (n.)
the base that must be touched third by a base runner in baseball;
he was cut down on a close play at third
Synonyms: third base
2
third (adv.)
in the third place;
third we must consider unemployment
Synonyms: thirdly
3
third (adj.)
coming next after the second and just before the fourth in position;
Synonyms: rd / tertiary
Etymologies are not definitions. From wordnet.princeton.edu, not affiliated with etymonline.