The Magic of the Threes


Welcome to the Bumbastories Countdown.  A semi-mystical review of the numbers. A salute to the Magic of Numbers. Today we salute the Three.

Ah! The Three! The Triad, the Triangle, the Holy Trinity! The Three Graces before that. Everybody loves the three.

We all know that you get three wishes. Three’s the charm! On the other hand, three strikes and you’re out!

The Two (the number two, the concept of duality)  splits unity (the One) into our world of opposites: the dialectic: yin and yang, life and death,  Abbott and Costello.

Forget who’s on first and what’s on second. The three complements the picture, makes things more balanced and interesting – that is, if you can manage a trois (sorry).

Connect two points and you have a line. Connect three points and you define a plane, and there’s interplay between three points, three people, three forces.


The vesica picsis – the intersection of the two circles –  generates the equilateral triangle. We  were introduced to the triangle in geometry class. Remember? Congruent triangles, similar triangles, isoscoles, and right angle ones? The triangle is the cornerstone of trigonometrimagey – and the main character in Euclid’s plane geometry, which has provided scientists and the rest of us with the template for logic – a system where you need to prove things before you think they’re true – a condition which is apparently hard to swallow for some of our modern-day “believers”.

Once again, hurray for the triangle! Hurray for its strength of structure! Paste two of those sturdy equilateral triangles together and you get a hexagon. And then, if you happen to be a bee, well, you’ll have a place to store your honey.

More about the hexagon in another post. Back to the three. We grow up listening to stories about the Three. The Three Bears, The Three Little Pigs. Three wishes! Of course, we heard those stories during the Terribles Threes.

As adults we encounter the Three Musketeers, Three Coins in the Fountain, Three Days of the Condor, Three Dog Night, the Three Stooges, and the Tri-State area. In basketball there’s Phil Jackson’s triangle offense, Miami’s Big Three, and the Triple Double (sounds like an oxymoron, though!). Baseball has the triple play, three bases (the fourth is called Home), and three strikes and you’re out as already mentioned. Speaking of three strikes and you’re out, I’m out of here (three sheets to the wind!).

15 thoughts on “The Magic of the Threes

  1. We also are taught the power of threes in landscaping and interior design. For some reason, people love three of a kind, whether it be potted plants, pictures on a wall, chairs around the spa, etc.

    1. Ever see the little card that has four numbers printed on the front 1…2…3…4 and asks you to pick a number? Turn the card over and it says “all assholes pick 3”

    1. There are lots of ’em. The three Amigos is up there.
      You know if you write out the numbers 1..2..3..4 on a piece of paper and ask people to pick a number, most will pick the three?
      The triple is surely the best hit in baseball (season approaching).

  2. Three is my lucky number! And nine even more so because it’s three times three, so three times as lucky.

    You forgot the other significance of three; its use in comedy – jokes often involve three people: a priest, a rabbi and a minister walk into a bar… The third thing is the funny thing in comedy. They do it in sitcoms all the time, two set-up lines and then the punchline:
    PERSON ONE: Blah blah blah.
    PERSON TWO: Blah blah blah.
    PERSON ONE: Blah blah blah blah blah!
    (See how funny it is even without any words).

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