Let's say that X is a girl who has a deal with Y, she would absolutely get many benefits of that deal after it comes to its deadline. However, there's A, B, and C who are three people that hate X and want to destroy her deal with Y. X doesn't know about their planning until after a while, so she says: "It was a _____ all that time!".

I thought of tri-scheme, but I'm not sure if it fits X's situation.

Any suggestion for a word that would describe X's situation?


1- I found "tri-aggression" and "tri-alliance".

2- I want a term as this one "tripartite aggression", but expressed with less violence.

  • This is a very particular situation. For example does it have to be 3 people? Do they have to hate X (or could they be doing it for money, not for personal reasons). Must there be a deal that they are breaking up. Finally, why do you think that there would be a single term for this precise situation? Does one exist in your languages?
    – James K
    Aug 21, 2018 at 17:53
  • @JamesK It doesn't have to be a single term, but a term that can describe or nearly describe X's situation. And, yes, I have a one in my language, but I didn't find it in dictionaries or online translators. But I suggested "tri-scheme", I want something similar to it, or better than it. About the situation, I will stick to the three people thing, but I don't require any particular thing that relates to a specific deal or relation (as hatred). Aug 21, 2018 at 18:17
  • This is an odd usage, where three is a critical element and needs to be an explicit part of the term. In typical use, there are many common phrases that go to multiple people working against one person. The phrases focus on that "ganging-up" action. If the count is important, it usually comes from other context. The key point is usually the collaborative action of many against one, rather than the fact that the group consisted of three people.
    – fixer1234
    Aug 22, 2018 at 23:53

5 Answers 5


There are a number of terms in English that relate to groups of three, none seem quite appropriate.

  • Trio, particularly a group of three musicians.
  • Threesome means three people, but is particularly used of a sexual group.
  • Triad means three objects. It is used in sociology to refer to groups of three people, but is also a type of Chinese gang structure.
  • Troika, from the Russian, this suggests a political grouping.
  • Triumvirate, from the Roman Empire, a group of three people acting as rulers.
  • Trinity, Particularly the three-part nature of God.
  • Triplet, one if a group of three, particularly of three children born together.
  • Coven, a group of witches, often a group of three witches.

In your situation, X can say "It was that scheming trio all along!" or perhaps. "There was a trio of A, B and C obstructing me all the time". Changing "trio" to "troika" would suggest a rather more organised and conspiratorial group of three.

  • Is all along a synonym of all that time? Or do they have different meanings? And why did you use that scheming trio instead of a scheming trio? She said that as she discovered it for the first time with a surprising tone. Aug 22, 2018 at 6:23
  • 1
    Yes, in this context "all along" means "all that time". I used "that" because the fact she is calling them a "trio" suggests that she already knows them to be a group of three, but she is only now realising what they have been doing. I'll try to phrase something for another case.
    – James K
    Aug 22, 2018 at 9:15
  • Triad of course - such a cool word.
    – a20
    Oct 17, 2018 at 6:04

If what they were planning was a bad thing, you could call it a conspiracy - the activity of planning something that is bad or illegal.

  • Or in the sentence, they were conspiring.
    – fixer1234
    Aug 22, 2018 at 23:43

There is a rather common English expression:

three against one

(the first number can be three, or two, or four, or pretty much any number).

The expression means that three people are ganging up together on one opponent. This could be in some kind of physical altercation (such as a fistfight), or it could be in an argument or debate. One example usage is found in a book review:

On the Beatles’ breakup, McCartney was often on the losing end of three-against-one arguments over finances [and] album releases.

So, going back to your scenario, where X suddenly realizes that A, B, and C are all actively opposing X's relationship with Y, X could say:

"It was three against one all that time!"

A general word that leaves off the aspect of a trio specifically is cahoots. One dictionary defines it as:

cahoots (n.) informal Questionable collaboration; secret partnership

and it's typically preceded by the word in, as in:

Authorities are still looking for others who may have been in cahoots with the criminal gang.

So, you could say:

The three of them were in cahoots against me all along!


I reached this term "Tripartite alliance against (someone)", which expresses X's situation the most.

So X's sentence will be like this:

"It was a tripartite alliance against me all that time!"

  • 1
    I've seen that word used on rare occasions, and only in connection with nations. I've never seen it applied to individual people.
    – fixer1234
    Aug 22, 2018 at 23:42
  • @fixer1234 Thanks for telling me that, I wouldn't want to embarrass myself in front of native readers. But I wasn't so confident with my finding, so I chose a suggestion from the answers here. Aug 23, 2018 at 7:26
  • 1
    Yikes .. I hope you did not use this in the end. It's a very bombastic term that is also quite old. I believe it was used back during pre-WWI era to describle political alliances. I don't feel it applies to normal, everyday individuals and using such a term seriously would look silly. I like J.R's suggestion of "three of them were in cahoots against me".
    – a20
    Oct 17, 2018 at 6:07

If the three people were concealing or misrepresenting their real intentions and actions, you could refer to what they did as sandbagging.

to conceal or misrepresent one's true position, potential, or intent especially in order to gain an advantage over

Usage examples:

It was a sandbagging all that time!

The three of them were sandbagging me all along!

The three of them sandbagged me!

  • I usually hear this word used in the context of sports or betting, not business dealings and relationships – but maybe that’s a regional thing. American Heritage lists this definition: To downplay or misrepresent one's ability in a game or activity in order to deceive (someone), especially in gambling. That pretty much mirrors how I’ve heard the word used.
    – J.R.
    Aug 23, 2018 at 1:01
  • @J.R., there are a lot of varying definitions that go to references in different contexts. I have actually heard it more in relation to business or personal dealings, and never heard it applied to sports or gaming. So, yeah, maybe it's a regional thing.
    – fixer1234
    Aug 23, 2018 at 1:12
  • @fixer1234 I would have used it since it describes X's situation precisely if I didn't find this common definition about it: deliberately underperform in a race or competition to gain an unfair advantage. An example that uses it: " Either they sandbagged during qualifying and practice or they gave very high downforce to the cars to make them slower during those sessions." Aug 23, 2018 at 7:38

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