Answering a recent question, I've realized that I don't know how to say the following idiomatic expression in Latin (cf. Spanish: "A la tercera va la vencida"). Any suggestions?

"Third time lucky" or "(the) third time’s the charm".

1 Answer 1


"Ad triarios ventum est"

En los tiempos de Roma Antigua, los soldados se dividían en filas de acuerdo a su capacitación y preparación. De este modo, los de la primera fila, llamados “pilati” o “velites” eran los bisoños y por lo tanto menos preparados. En la segunda, iban los “bastati” que tenían más valor y mérito que los anteriores. Mientras que en la tercera, estaban los “triarios” que eran los veteranos más valerosos.

Según el diccionario del Padre Esteban de Terreros, de esa división provino el adagio latino “ad triarios ventum est” que significa justamente “a la tercera va la vencida".

  • 1
    Many thanks, Yerko, for your answer. I'm also grateful to you since I didn't know about the "Diccionario" written by the priest Esteban de Terreros (cf. books.google.es/… ). An appropriate English translation of the Lat. impersonal passive ad triarios ventum est, which I've just seen was adopted from Livy (VIII, 8, 10), could be the proverb "It is come to the last push".
    – Mitomino
    Commented Aug 11, 2019 at 1:33
  • @Mitomino: Did Romans say: "Third time lucky"? In the trenches of WW1 it was a case of third-time unlucky. It was considered bad luck to light a third cigarette, from the same match. This was actually true. The time required to light three cigs, gave enemy snipers ample opportunity, to shoot at the clearly-visible, burning-match, with predictable consequences.
    – tony
    Commented Aug 15, 2019 at 12:56
  • @Mitomino: The Spanish indicates that the Roman Army was divided into three ranks: the second, braver than the first; the third (triarius), braver still, and more meritorious than the second. So "ad triarios ventum est" = to the Third--it has come" (presumably, after the failure if 1st & 2nd.) hence "third time lucky"?
    – tony
    Commented Aug 16, 2019 at 12:47
  • @Mitomino: Wiki gives a triarius as a tactical unit of the Roman Republican Army, during the Samnite Wars (343-290 BC)--shock troops/ cammandoes, perhaps? So called "manipular units" from "manipulus = a handful".
    – tony
    Commented Aug 16, 2019 at 12:51
  • @tony. Thanks for the additional info. I think that Ad triarios ventum est is better translated with the proverb "It is come to the last push" (no one was after them. So it was the last opportunity to win but it was the best one since Triarii were considered the bravest ones). But, as you say above, probably, Romans didn't say "Third time lucky".
    – Mitomino
    Commented Aug 16, 2019 at 19:59

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