PIE word

From Latin triad-, stem of trias (three, triad), from Ancient Greek τριάς (triás).

Sense 3 (“branch of a Chinese underground criminal society”) is due to the word being applied by the British authorities to underground society in Hong Kong based on the geometry of the Chinese character.


  • IPA(key): /ˈtɹaɪ.æd/
  • (file)


triad (plural triads)

  1. A grouping of three.
    Synonyms: threesome, trine, trinity, trio, triplet, troika, triumvirate; see also Thesaurus:trio
    • 2000, David Pierce, Irish Writing in the Twentieth Century: A Reader, page 625:
      There are, says the Irish triad, 'three fewnesses that are better than plenty: a fewness of fine words; a fewness of cows on grass; a fewness of good friends around good ale'. As an Ulsterman I would agree.
  2. A word of three syllables.
    Synonym: trisyllable
    • 1815, Scott, Sir Walter, chapter 13, in Guy Mannering:
      In his general deportment he was pompous and important, affecting a species of florid elocution, which often became ridiculous from his misarranging the triads and quaternions with which he loaded his sentences.
  3. A branch of a Chinese underground criminal society, mostly based in Hong Kong.
  4. (electronics) on a CRT display, a group of three neighbouring phosphor dots, coloured green, red, and blue.
  5. (music) A chord consisting of a root tone, the tone two degrees higher, and the tone four degrees higher in a given scale.

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