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Third Time’s a Charm (Meaning, Origin, Examples)

We have all heard this saying and wondered what it could mean. Is third time a charm? Third time at what and what does charm mean?

No worries! In this article, let us break down this phrase, understand its meaning and learn how you can use it correctly the next time.

Third times a charm
Third times a charm

Meaning of “third times a charm”

The third time is a charm essentially means that the third try at something is lucky and will possibly bring you success.

Here, the third time refers to a third try or a third attempt at a task.

And charm refers to good luck.

If someone has failed two attempts at some task, it is believed the third time will be a charm.

That is the third time that will prove to be lucky.

This is a hopeful statement that is most likely used to encourage someone to keep trying even after two failed attempts.

Definition of “third times a charm”

Merriam-Webster defines this saying as:

The third time is a charm: used to say that two efforts at something have already failed, but perhaps the third will be successful.

Origin of “third times a charm”

As popular as this idiom is, it is also a strange one. There is no possible explanation as to why number three or a third try is considered lucky. However, there are some theories that explain how this saying originated.

It is believed that this idiom dates back to the 1800s. At this time, anything found in sets or pairs of three was considered holy. The number three was a sign of good luck. Hence, the saying that the third time is a charm.

Another theory suggests that this saying is a hint at perseverance. It is a way to encourage a person to keep going at the task without giving up within a few tries. With each try, a person gets better at the task at hand, and hence the more you try, the more the chances you getting it right.

Ways to use the idiom

There are two ways to use this phrase-

1. as a hopeful statement, used before a third try.

Let’s say a friend tries his hand at a game but fails to win the first and second times. Now you wish to motivate him to give it a third try because you’re sure he might do well this time, so you say:

“Keep going, mate, third time’s a charm!”

2. as an indicative statement, used after a third attempt brings success.

Let’s say your friend keeps trying to win the game and doesn’t get it right the first or second time. He tries again and wins on the third try. Now you say:

“I knew you would win it on this try, third time’s a charm.”


This saying is fairly informal. Hence it’s use should be avoided in formal and legal communication.

Here are a few examples that will help you understand how this saying can be used in conversations.

Example 01:

Aaron: I finally cleared the test I was stuck on for so long.

Brian: As they say, the third time is a charm!

Example 02:

Celia: You’ve suffered huge losses after making these investments twice. Do you still want to try again?

Dorothy: Yes, I will give it another shot. The third time’s a charm, anyway.

I hope this article helped you understand the meaning and use of the saying. Use it in your conversations the next time and charm your friends!


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About the author

Dalia Y.: Dalia is an English Major and linguistics expert with an additional degree in Psychology. Dalia has featured articles on Forbes, Inc, Fast Company, Grammarly, and many more. She covers English, ESL, and all things grammar on GrammarBrain.

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