tri·​fec·​ta | \ trī-ˈfek-tə How to pronounce trifecta (audio) , ˈtrī-ˌfek-\

Definition of trifecta

1 : triple sense 1b achieved a show-business trifecta : a platinum record, hit TV series, and an Oscar
2 : 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

Should be part of the Chad Brown trifecta, especially with two-time Diana winner Irad Ortiz Jr. in the saddle., "Clancy’s Call: Saratoga," 12 July 2019 Democrats could also win the governor’s mansion, after eight years of Republican Gov. Paul LePage, for another new trifecta. Dylan Scott, Vox, "9 states where Democrats can win back legislative control from Republicans in 2018," 30 July 2018 The Kings got back in as a wild-card team a year after their miss led to the dismissal of coach Darryl Sutter and general manager Dean Lombardi, and the Ducks and San Jose Sharks joined them in the playoffs for a California trifecta. Helene Elliott,, "NHL playoffs preview: A look at each series matchup," 10 Apr. 2018 Creating a Democratic trifecta in Pennsylvania, on the other hand, would open the door to a major voting rights expansion in a key swing state. Adam Eichen, The New Republic, "After 48 Years, Democrats Still Haven’t Gotten the Memo," 23 July 2019 Kinkaid almost captured a trifecta in girls lacrosse, winning the city championship and reaching the Texas High School Girls Lacrosse League state final. Jack Marrion, Houston Chronicle, "Kinkaid key contributor to local SPC dominance in 2018-19," 15 July 2019 Ditto a trifecta of gelatos from Giulana’s of New Haven, vanilla, chocolate and pistachio, which were hoovered up with pleasure. Rand Richards Cooper,, "Review: Brizo in Rocky Hill," 10 July 2019 The trifecta marks a massive shift in the pageant world, where non-Black women often dominate competitions. Aimee Simeon,, "Brianna Mason On Her Historic Miss Tennessee Win: "Representation Is So Important"," 5 July 2019 The $2 exacta paid $96, and the $1 trifecta paid $1,244. Mark Inabinett |,, "Belmont Stakes 2019: Results, payouts, order of finish," 8 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'trifecta.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of trifecta

1971, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for trifecta

tri- + perfecta

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Last Updated

11 Aug 2019

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Time Traveler for trifecta

The first known use of trifecta was in 1971

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More from Merriam-Webster on trifecta

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with trifecta

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for trifecta Encyclopedia article about trifecta

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a period when something is suspended

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