bad things come in threes

Bad things may be specified as accidents, deaths, or other mishaps; cf. misfortunes never come singly. This is a well-attested folk superstition on both sides of the Atlantic: 1891 Notes & Queries 7th ser. XII. 489 One of my servants having accidentally broken a glass shade, asked for two other articles of little value, a wine bottle and jam crock, that she might break them, and so prevent the two other accidents... which would otherwise follow. Cf. third time lucky.

1997 D. HANSEN Sole Survivor xvi. 82 He was a superstitious man and believed that bad joss always struck in threes.

2002 Times 20 Mar. 22 They say bad things come in threes. I don’t know who the they are that say this, mind, or how they found out that that was how bad things came,..but..last weekend, they were spot on.


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