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.



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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