tri·​fec·​ta trī-ˈfek-tə How to pronounce trifecta (audio)
: triple sense 1b
achieved a show-business trifecta : a platinum record, hit TV series, and an Oscar
: a variation of the perfecta in which a bettor wins by selecting the first three finishers of a race in the correct order of finish

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Where does trifecta come from?

Trifecta is a recent addition to the English language. It first appeared in the early 1970s as a term for a horse-racing bet in which the first, second, and third place finishers are chosen in the correct order.

The word has since broadened in meaning: it can now also refer to a group of three (usually desirable) things (such as “the trifecta of curing cancer, ending hunger, and putting an end to war"). It is found in everything from advertisements to media company names to casual speech.

Trifecta combines the prefix tri- (meaning “three”) with the last element in perfecta, a word of American Spanish origin that refers to a horse-racing bet in which the first- and second-place finishers are chosen correctly.

Examples of trifecta in a Sentence

that summertime trifecta for meteorologically induced misery: hazy, hot, and humid
Recent Examples on the Web Fall, football, and chili: the classic trifecta beloved for cozy Sundays in. Sharon Greenthal, Better Homes & Gardens, 13 Nov. 2023 That year, Democrats captured the Senate and House of Delegates to gain a trifecta for the first time since 1993, thanks in part to then-President Donald Trump’s moribund standing. Geoffrey Skelley, ABC News, 26 Oct. 2023 Aiming for Shaheed in the third quarter, Carr uncorked a scary trifecta — throwing late, high and wide. Tom Krasovic, San Diego Union-Tribune, 21 Oct. 2023 If Republicans managed to take control of both chambers, this would also grant them a trifecta whereby the same party controls both chambers of the state legislature and the governorship. Paul Bedard, Washington Examiner, 17 Oct. 2023 Another beauty editor must-have is NYX's Butter Gloss, delivering a trifecta of color, shine, and plumping. Andrea Navarro, Glamour, 11 Oct. 2023 Illinois is a Democratic trifecta, allowing for left-leaning policies to become law despite pushback from GOP state and national officials. Rachel Schilke, Washington Examiner, 1 Aug. 2023 And if Landry wins, Louisiana Republicans will have a trifecta — control of the governorship and both chambers in the state legislature — for the first time in eight years, during which time Edwards often used his veto pen to block legislation passed by the heavily Republican legislature. Geoffrey Skelley, ABC News, 12 Oct. 2023 When shopping for footwear, there are a few things to keep in mind — comfort, quality, and style — and luckily, one of our favorite brands that embodies this trifecta is having a sitewide sale. Bridget Degnan, Travel + Leisure, 26 Sep. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'trifecta.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


tri- + perfecta

First Known Use

1971, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of trifecta was in 1971

Dictionary Entries Near trifecta

Cite this Entry

“Trifecta.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Dec. 2023.

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