I was on the search if there is a word for three times like once and twice for one and two times.

I found an article about thrice:

The norm here is to say once (rather than one time), and to say three times (rather than thrice) in current usage. Thrice is definitely old-fashioned, although you may still come across it in certain contexts.

There are example sentences, but I found no explanations about the certain contexts.

The Ngram doesn't show a lot hits for thrice. Ngram once, twice, thrice

Are there special contexts, when thrice is used? Is it only in old texts - or if you want to make the impression of an old text?

P.S. Thrice is the last single word for x-times.

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    I have used thrice on occasion, but I've been avoiding it more and more, simply because I found a lot of people reading it, looking puzzled, and asking, "What's thrice?" Words are peculiar sometimes: if you learn a word early on, you tend to assume a lot of people will know what it means, but if you've only discovered a word recently, you might assume it's less well-known. While that rule of thumb may have some measure of reliability, it's not foolproof. At any rate, this word sounded normal to me, but I started avoiding it after I had confused my readers thrice or so. :^)
    – J.R.
    Feb 13, 2013 at 23:00
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    One other note: although the O.P.'s Ngram doesn't show thrice being used much, this one doesn't show three times being used all that much, either. That said, the reader might find this Ngram quite interesting; the battle was rather close through the latter part of the 18th century.
    – J.R.
    Feb 13, 2013 at 23:06
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    I use thrice whenever it’s called for, and I certainly have never had anyone look at me askance for it.
    – tchrist
    Feb 13, 2013 at 23:23
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    @J.R. I had a professor in college who liked to tell a story about a student who once said to him "What's a typewriter?" when he was trying to use the reference to explain carriage returns and line feeds in programming. I find it surprising people haven't heard of thrice, but I can understand it. Not having heard of a typewriter frightens me a little!
    – WendiKidd
    Feb 13, 2013 at 23:51
  • @WendiKidd Hmm, amusing thought. I'd expect educated people to know the names of many things that are out of date. I know what a sword and shield are even though they are no longer commonly used weapons. I guess the details fade. Most 21st century Americans probably don't know what a cantle is, though I'd suppose most 19th century Americans did. I don't suppose that many high school students today have ever used a slide rule. But do they know what a slide rule is? I know what a telegram is even though I never sent or received one.
    – Jay
    Apr 2, 2018 at 5:16

2 Answers 2


I think you've pretty much got your answer in the question :) You're exactly right--thrice is correct but sounds formal and old-fashioned, and is rarely used nowadays. If you were writing a children's book of nursery rhymes, maybe you'd use it to be silly and to rhyme with! But yes, it's fallen out of use and is not common anymore at all.

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    That's the problem if you make first a little research on the net - you find answers ;)
    – knut
    Feb 13, 2013 at 22:20
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    To all intents and purposes, I think this is all the average learner needs to know. But I do think this is a "special context" where it doesn't seem out of place today: Compliance was best with the once-daily regimen; both twice- and thrice-daily regimens were similarly inferior. Feb 13, 2013 at 22:24
  • @FumbleFingers: +1. I think most Advanced English learners need to know what thrice means, but pretty much all English learners would be well advised to avoid using it. "Thrice" can always be replaced with "three times" without loss of meaning.
    – Matt
    Feb 13, 2013 at 22:48
  • @Matt: Unless they're in the habit of reading older texts, I'm not sure even Advanced English learners would actually need to know what the word means, since they'd almost never encounter it in contemporary spoken or written texts. But if they do happen to know the word, learners at all levels would do well to bear in mind that it's unlikely they'll ever have a good context for using it themselves. I cited an example doing it for brevity, but I wouldn't mind betting UK doctors have standing instructions not to use the word on prescription dosage instructions. Feb 13, 2013 at 22:54
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    @WendiKidd: The thing is I bet well over 99.9% of all "current" usages are deliberately/facetiously "old-fashioned" (I wouldn't say it's meaningfully "formal" today except in that sense). But I imagine whoever wrote that pharmacologic abstract wasn't thinking that way at all - he just wanted to avoid excessively verbose repetition, so he's an example of the 0.1% of cases where it was perfectly natural phrasing, even today. To some of us, at least - but in another generation or two I doubt he'd be able to get away with it. Feb 13, 2013 at 23:45

The NOAD says thrice is, "chiefly formal literary," which is what the OED says too. They also say that in sentences such as "I was thrice blessed." thrice means "extremely; very."

Looking for any sentence containing thrice on the Corpus of Contemporary American English, I found 230 sentences, 6 of those cataloged as "spoken."

SHORTZ: Very good. More than twice.
SHORTZ: Uh-huh.

  • Hmm, interesting! I wonder if the alternate meaning of thrice in "I was thrice blessed" has religious origins. Now I'm curious! Sounds like an EL&U question, I'll have to post it sometime if research doesn't uncover the answer for me.
    – WendiKidd
    Feb 13, 2013 at 23:34
  • I was just noticing yesterday at the Buddhist ceremony held to honor my wife's late grandparents, that all ritual acts were done three times.
    – user264
    Feb 13, 2013 at 23:47

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