Threesology Research Journal
Language Threes
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~ The Study of Threes ~
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3-patterned slogans, sayings and expressions

Note: While I give an indication of the relative appearance of the expression in English, it is necessary to appreciate that the basic ideas may be much older and much more widely occurring in variations, to the extent of pre-dating the written language, and escaping the acknowledgment of those recording such comments.


3-part divisions may exist as three words, three phrases, three items, etc., as well as more subtle caricatures that I have tried to avoid in the following examples, except for the expression of Frances Parkman, while clear to me, may not be easily identifiable to other readers. Because there are many expressions that seem to have parallels in other cultures, we must consider the possibility that there exists a commonality of brain structure functioning which predisposes us to not only perceive similarly but also accept particular references as generalized indicators of that which is acknowledged through awareness, if not also having had a personal experience with a particular event.


If we conclude that there is some validity to such an assumption, we should also consider the possibility that history repeats itself due to the recurrence of similarly accepted expressions of experiences that may or may not be the same, but are nonetheless labeled with a referential saying that perpetuates not only the saying, but also the insistent acceptance of commonality of perception that may in fact be changing due to an evolutionary development of human cognition. Thus, it may be possible to encourage the development of an evolutionary progress in human brain functioning if we were to change the old expressions by improving upon them. How else will the social acceptance of brain evolution take place if we don't try to see things differently by improving upon those labels we continue to perpetuate generation after generation, or developing new labels?... though some may even want to question the need for such expressions at all.


Similarly, though we may agree to label such expressions as a global form of "common sense", we should refrain from further definitions which claim such ideas as God given universal laws. An extra-terrestrial's brain may view such common sense as irrational when it is primarily based on mentally derived physiological responses to a planet's environmental conditions. Hence, human physiology subjected to different environmental conditions might well design "common sense" according to such experiences. While the "common" may be factual, the "sense" may not be a rationality of wide-spread applicability.


3-part Expression (approx.) Date of 1st appearance
For want of a nail the shoe was lost;
For want of a shoe the horse was lost;
and For want of a horse the man was lost.
Early 17th Century- English
Late 15th Century- French
Forewarned is Forearmed Early 16th Century
Fortune Favors Fools Mid 16th Century
Fools for luck Mid 19th Century
From clogs to clogs is only 3 generations. Late 19th Century
From shirt sleeves to shirt sleeves in 3 generations. Early 20th Century- attributed to Andrew Carnegie but not found in his writings.
Haste Makes Waste Late 14th Century
Make haste slowly Late 16th Century
Slow but sure. Late 17th Century
He who can, does, he who cannot, teaches. Early 20th Century (2-patterned)
Those who can, do
Those who can't, teach
Those who can't teach, teach teachers.
Late 20th Century (3-patterned)
Hear all, see all, say nowt,
Tak'all, keep all, gie nowt,
and if tha ever does owt for nowt, do it for thysen.
Early 15th Century
See no evil, Hear no evil, Speak no evil. Early 20th Century
Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil is an ancient Buddhist proverb from Japan.  It might not have come to your ears until the 20th Century but it is far older than that.
(E-mail message from Brice Particelli, 10-26-02)
Seeing is Believing Early 17th Century
Heaven protects children, sailors, and drunken men. Mid 19th Century
History Repeats Itself Mid 19th Century
Homer sometimes nods Late 14th Century
Hope Springs Eternal Early 18th Century
Horses for courses Late 19th Century
If at first you don't succeed, try, try try again. Mid 19th Century
If you would be happy for a week take a wife;
if you would be happy for a month kill a pig;
but if you would be happy all your life plant a garden.
Mid 17th Century
It takes 3 generations to make a gentleman. Early 19th Century
Jam tomorrow and Jam yesterday, but never jam today. Late 19th Century- Lewis Carroll (Through the looking glass)
Killing no murder Mid 17th Century
Murder will out. Early 14th Century
Truth will out. Mid 15th Century
Knowledge is power Late 16th Century
Might is right Early 14th Century
Money is power Mid 18th Century
Money isn't everything. Early 20th Century
Money makes money Late 16th Century
Nothing for nothing Early 18th Century
Length begets loathing Mid 18th Century
Less is more Mid 19th Century- often associated with Mies van der Rohe
Let well alone Late 16th Century
Like breeds Like Mid 16th Century
Live and Learn Early 17th Century
Love begets Love Mid 17th Century
Love is blind Late 14th Century
Manners maketh man Mid 14th Century- motto of William of Wykeham (1324- 1404)
Three may keep a secret if two of them are dead. Mid 16th Century
The third time pays for all. Mid 16th Century
Third time lucky Mid 19th Century
Thought is free Late 14th Century
Three removals are as bad as a fire. Mid 18th Century
Three things are not to be trusted; a cow's horn, a dog's tooth, and a horse's hoof. Late 14th Century
Time is money Late 16th Century
Time will tell Mid 16th Century
Time works wonders Late 16th Century
Tomorrow never comes Early 16th Century
Tommorrow's another day. First appeared???
Two boys are half a boy, and three boys are no boy at all. Early 20th Century
Two is company, but three is more. Early 18th Century
Two's company, three's a crowd. Mid 20th Century?
Walls have ears Late 16th Century
Blood will tell Mid 19th Century
Cheats never prosper Early 19th Century
Circumstances alter cases Late 17th Century
Diamond cuts diamond Early 17th Century
Divide and Rule Early 17th Century
Divide and Conquer First appeared???
Early to bed, Early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise. Late 15th Century
East, west, Home's best. Mid 19th Century
Easy does it. Mid 19th Century
England is the paradise of women, the hell of horses, and the purgatory of servants. Late 16th Century- there is also a similar French version for the same era.
Every little helps
(also known as Every bit helps or Every little bit helps)
Early 17th Century
Familiarity breeds contempt Late 14th Century- English
5th Century A.D.- Latin
First things First Late 19th Century
Fish and guests stink after 3 days. Late 16th Century
(I've) Been there. Pre 1980's- 3-word 1-patterned
Been there, done that. 1980's- 2-patterned
Been there, done that, got the T-shirt. 1990's- 3-patterned
Crime Doesn't Pay Slogan of F.B.I. and the Dick Tracy Cartoon character.
A committee is a group of the unwilling, chosen from the unfit, to do the unnecessary. (Variations exist) Late 20th Century- Origin is unknown, but is commonly seen in various forms posted by employees in different kinds of businesses.
Misery loves company Late 16th Century
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me. Late 19th Century
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but whips & chains excite me. Late 20th Century
Night brings counsel Late 16th Century
Offenders neve pardon Mid 17th Century
One Englishman can beat three Frenchmen. Late 16th Century
3 to 1 ratio:
One white foot, buy him
two white feet, try him
three white feet, look well about him
four white feet, go without him.
Late 19th Century- on horse dealing
Physician, heal thyself. Early 15th Century
Like cures Like Motto of Homeopathic medicine
Practice Makes Perfect Mid 16th Century
Revenge is Sweet Mid 16th Century
Silence is Golden Mid 19th Century
Silence means Consent Late 14th Century
Six hours sleep for a man,
Seven for a woman,
and Eight for a fool.
Early 17th Century
Small is beautiful Late 20th Century
Softly, Softly, Catchee monkey Early 20th Century
A swarm in May is worth a load of hay;
a swarm in June is worth a silver spoon;
but a swarm in July is not worth a fly.
Mid 17th Century- Beekeeper's saying (there is also a nursery rhyme that is an adaptation of this: A swarm of bees)
Talk is cheap. Mid 19th Century
Union is strength Mid 17th Century
United We Stand 1768- John Dickinson (The Liberty Song) American Political slogan sometimes including: Divided We Fall
God Bless America 1938- Irving Berlin Song, American Political/Media slogan
Who loves not woman, wine, and song
remains a fool his whole life long.
Late 15th Early 16th Centuries- sometimes ascribed to Martin Luther (1493-1546) without proof of authorship.
A book of verses underneath the bough,
A jug of wine, a loaf of Bread---and thou
Beside me singing in the wilderness---
Oh, wilderness were paradise enow!
Mid 19th Century- Edward Fitzgerald (1809- 1883)
A pizza, a beer, and the old lady.
or: A beer, the old lady, and TV.
Late 20th Century
While two dogs are fighting for a bone, a third runs away with it. Late 14th Century
Keep on Truckin' 1972 America- used by Robert Crumb in cartoons
What's up doc? 1940 America- used by Tex Avery (1907-1980) for the Bugs Bunny cartoon character.
Anyone for Tennis? Early to Mid 20th Century- Typical of drawing-room comedies, and much associated with Humphrey Bogart (1899-1957).
3 oldest professions:
Pretending (Actors, etc...)~ Preaching (Religion, Law, Politics)~ Prostitution (the latter is a way of life adopted by those who have been used, abused and excused from a normal life by the other two professions.)
2001- H.O.B. (Oct. 24th, 3:50 P.M)
I shall return. 1942- Douglas MacArthur (on arriving in Australia from the Philippines, March 30th).
The three great elemental sounds in nature:
Are the sound of rain,
the sound of wind in a primal wood,
and the sound of outer ocean on a beach.
Early to Mid 20th Century- Henry Beston
In a real dark night of the soul it is always three O'clock in the morning. 1936- Esquire (March publication)
A woman, a dog, and a walnut tree, the more you beat them the better they be. Late 16th Century
The three O'clock in the morning courage, which Bonaparte thought was the rarest. 1854- Walden
Three merry boys, and three merry boys,
And three merry boys are we,
As ever did sing in a hempen string
under the gallows tree.
Late 16th to Early 17th Century- John Fletcher (1579- 1625) (Bloody Brother act 2, scene 2 song.)
3 to 1 ratio:
In war, three-quarters turns on personal character and relations. The balance of manpower and materials counts only for the remaining quarter.
Late 18th Early 19th Century- Napoleon 1st (1769- 1821)
The way of the superior man is threefold,
But I have not been able to attain it. The man of wisdom has not perplexities; The man of humanity has no worry; The man of courage has no fear.
Mid 6th to Late 5th centuries- Confucius (551- 479 BC)
There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded. 1995- Princess Diana of Wales (1961- 1997) Interview on Panorama, BBCi TV, 20th November.
It is quite a three-pipe problem, and I beg that you won't speak to me for fifty minutes. 1892- Sherlock Holmes (The case of The Red-Headed League)
There were three ravens sat on a tree,
They were as black as they might be.
The one of them said to his make,
'where shall we our breakfast take?'
Late 19th to Early 20th Centuries- Arthur James Balfour (1848- 1930) The Three Ravens
Out upon it I have loved
Three whole days together;
And am like to love three more,
If it prove fair weather.
Late 17th Century- John Suckling (1609- 1642) A poem with the answer
The first hole in a stone is revelation.
The second hole is an inspiration.
The third, perspiration.
Early 20th Century- Henry Moore (1898- 1986) 1st line.
2001- H.O.B Oct. 23, 3 O'clock PM 2nd and 3rd lines.
Earth! render back from out thy breast
a remnant of our spartan dead!
of the three hundred grant but three,
to make a new thermopylae!
Late 18th to Early 19th Centuries- Lord Byron (1788- 1824) Don Juan canto 3, stanza 91. Written 1819- 1924.
3 to 1 ratio:Of every four words I write, I strike out three. Early 17th to Early 18th Centuries- Nicolas Boileau (1636- 1711)
Ever the Same. Motto of Elizabeth 1st
If the triangles were to make a god they would give him three sides. Late 17th to Mid 18th Centuries- Montesquieu (Charles- Louis de Secondat) 1689- 1755
On the contrary Last words of Henrik Ibsen 1828- 1926
Strike the tent Last words of Robert E. Lee 1807- 1870
I die happy Last words of Charles James Fox 1749- 1806
Who dares wins Motto of the British Special Air Service regiment, from 1942
Elementary- My Dear Watson- Elementary Attributed to Sherlock Holmes, but not found in this form in any book by Arthur Conan Doyle.
Gaul as a whole is divided into three parts. Julius Caesar- 100- 44 B.C.
Today I put on a terrible strength invoking the Trinity, confessing the three with faith in the One as I face my maker. 5th Century- St. Patrick (On his breast plate.)
Every man at three years old is half his height. Leonardo da Vinci 1452- 1519
Three acres and a cow. Regarded as the requirement for English self-sufficiency.  Associated with the radical politician Jesse Collings (1831- 1920) and his land reform campaign begun in 1885, although used earlier by Joseph Chamberlain in a speech at Evesham and published in the Time, Nov. 17, 1885.
Burn Your Bra 1970's U.S. Feminist Slogan
You are not like cerebus, three gentlemen at once, are you? Richard Brinsley Sheridan- (1751- 1816)
Three hours a day will produce as much as a man ought to write. Anthony Trollope (1815- 1882)
Man has but three events in his life:
To be born, to live, and to die.  He is not conscious of his birth, he suffers at his death and he forgets to live.
Jean de la Bruyère (1645- 1696)
Good life be now my task: my doubts are done: (What more could fright my faith than three in one?) John Dryden (1631- 1700) in the Hind and the Panther 1687.
This England never did, nor never shall,
lie at the proud foot of a conqueror,
But when it first did help to wound itself.
Now these her princes are come home again,
come the three corners of the world in arms,
And we shall sock them; nought shall make us rue,
If England to itself dod rest but true.
William Shakespeare (1564- 1616) King John act 5, scene 7, line 112.
People can be divided into three groups:
Those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who wonder what happened.
Nicholas Murray Butler


The following items are from: --- "Three-pointed" Quotations ---

Einstein's Three Rules of Work: 1. Out of clutter find simplicity. 2. From discord find harmony. 3. In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.

Albert Einstein

There are three kinds of people in the world: Those who can't stand Picasso, Those who can't stand Raphael, and Those who've never heard of either of them.

John White

There are three things I always forget. Names, faces -- the third I can't remember.

Italo Svevo

A writer needs three things, experience, observation, and imagination, any two of which, at times any one of which, can supply the lack of the others.

William Faulkner

There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.

William Somerset Maugham

There are three kinds of intelligence: One kind understands things for itself, The other appreciates what others can understand, The third understands neither for itself nor through others. This first is excellent, the second good, and the third useless.

Niccolo Machiavelli

All mankind is divided into three classes: Those that are immovable, those that are movable, and those that move.

Arabian Proverb

There are three ingredients in the good life: Learning, Earning, and Yearning.

Christopher Morley

Turn yourself not away from three best things: Good Thought, Good Word, and Good Deed.

Zoroaster

There are three kinds of lies: Lies, Damned lies and Statistics.

Benjamin Disraeli

Every scientific truth goes through three states: First, people say it conflicts with the Bible; Next, they say it has been discovered before; Lastly, they say they always believed it.

Louis Agassiz

There are three principal means of acquiring knowledge . . . observation of nature, reflection, and experimentation. Observation collects facts; reflection combines them; experimentation verifies the result of that combination.

Denis Diderot

There are only three things to be done with a woman. You can love her, suffer for her, or turn her into literature.

Lawrence Durell

There are three questions which in life we have over and over again to answer: Is it right or wrong? Is it true or false? Is it beautiful or ugly? Our education ought to help us to answer these questions.

John Lubbock

Every truth passes through three stages before it is recognized. In the first it is ridiculed; In the second it is opposed; In the third it is regarded as self-evident.

Arthur Schopenhauer

There are three reasons why lawyers are being used more and more in scientific experiments. First, every year there are more of them around. Second, lab assistants don't get attached to them. And, third, there are some things that rats just won't do.

Unknown

Great nations write their autobiographies in three manuscripts: 1. The book of their deeds. 2. The book of their words. 3. And the book of their art.

John Ruskin

There are three roads to ruin; women, gambling and technicians. The most pleasant is with women, the quickest is with gambling, but the surest is with technicians.

Georges Pompidou

Inanimate objects are classified scientifically into three major categories: Those that don't work, Those that break down, And those that get lost.

Russell Baker

There are three categories of people in industry: 1. The few who make things happen. 2. The many who watch things happen. 3. And the overwhelming majority who have no idea what happened.

O. A. Battista

To me there are three things everyone should do every day. Number one is laugh. Number two is think, spend some time in thought. Number three, you should have your emotions move you to tears. If you laugh, think and cry, that's a heck of a day.

Jim Valvano

The three signs of great men are: 1. Generosity in the design. 2. Humanity in the execution. 3. Moderation in success.

Otto von Bismarck

Three things can happen when you put a [foot]ball in the air, and two of them are bad.

Duffy Daugherty

There are three things extremely hard: Steel, a Diamond, and To know one's self.

Benjamin Franklin

There are three things which are real: God, Human folly, Land laughter. Since the first two pass our comprehension, we must do what we can with the third.

Aubrey Menen

There are three wants which never can be satisfied: 1. That of the rich, who wants something more; 2. That of the sick, who wants something different; and 3. That of the traveler, who says, "Anywhere but here."

Ralph Waldo Emerson

There are three ways to get something done: 1. Do it yourself. 2. Hire someone to do it. 3. Or ask your kids not to do it.

Malcolm L. Kushner

Three outstanding qualities make for success: Judgment, Industry, Health. And the greatest of these is judgment.

William Maxwell Aitken

Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: The longing for love, The search for knowledge, And unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind.

Bertrand Russell

Bear Bryant's Three Rules for coaching: 1. Surround yourself with people who can't live without football. 2. Recognize winners. (They come In all forms.) 3. Have a plan for everything.

"Bear" Bryant

3 to 1 ratio:
There be three things which are too wonderful for me, yea, four which I know not:
1 of 3. The way of an eagle in the air.
2 of 3. The way of a serpent upon a rock.
3 of 3. The way of a ship in the midst of the sea.
1 of 1. The way of a man with a maid.

Proverbs 30:18-19



3 subtle parts to one expression by the historian Francis Parkman (1823-1893):

[1] He who would do some great things in this short life must apply himself to work with such a concentration of force as,
[2] to idle spectators who live only to amuse themselves,
[3] looks like insanity.

3 subtle parts to analogy:

[1] Back to the Crib & Bottle
[2] though you call it Bar & Booze,
[3] get Drunk so you can Toddle and the unknowing will excuse.

(I had made these correlations back in the 1970's. H.O.B.)


"I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with Sense, Reason and Intellect, has intended us to forgo their use." Galileo Galilei

Comedian Don Rickles, is said to have become famous for insulting members of his audience by yelling: "Ya hockey puck!"

3-part rhymed expression attributed to Benjamin Franklin: Snug as a bug in a rug..


Page Created: Thursday, 13-November-2014... 5:42:19 AM
Updated Posting: Wednesday, 19-July-2017... 6:49 AM
Your Questions, Comments or Additional Information are welcomed:
Herb O. Buckland
herbobuckland@hotmail.com