tri·​fec·​ta | \trī-ˈfek-tə, 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

Republicans will retain trifecta control in both of those states through the 2021 redistricting and right now that’s 43 seats in Congress, so nearly a tenth of the entire body. Sean Illing, Vox, "What the 2018 midterms mean for the Democrats’ gerrymandering dilemma," 7 Nov. 2018 Replacing the North American Free Trade Agreement, reshaping the Supreme Court, and launching a new Cold War in the same week is quite the trifecta. Walter Russell Mead, WSJ, "Mike Pence Announces Cold War II," 8 Oct. 2018 The cosmos offers an early morning trifecta for the world’s skygazers Wednesday: a super blue blood moon. Blaine Friedlander, Washington Post, "The super blue blood moon happens Wednesday. Here’s how to see it.," 29 Jan. 2018 States where Democrats have new trifectas are Colorado, Illinois, Maine, New Mexico, New York and Nevada, according to Ballotpedia. Scott Calvert, WSJ, "Democrats Win Some State Legislatures, but GOP Maintains Majority," 7 Nov. 2018 The Democratic victories in Kansas and Michigan will break up Republican trifectas. David A. Lieb, The Seattle Times, "Democrats gain governors’ seats, but GOP holds some states," 7 Nov. 2018 But Joey took her pre-party routine a step further than the usual hair, makeup, and manicure trifecta. Zoë Weiner, Teen Vogue, "Joey King Shared Her Beauty Routine for TIFF 2018," 14 Sep. 2018 How could the new Four Seasons ever live up to the old one, given its original trifecta of Mies van der Rohe, Philip Johnson and the Huxtables? Steven Stolman, Town & Country, "A Clear-Eyed Assessment of the New Four Seasons—By Someone Who Loved the Old One," 7 Sep. 2018 This is less a matter of placing bets on a Democratic victory than hedging bets after two years of trifecta control of Washington by the GOP. Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, "K Street Lobbying Shops Anticipating Democratic House," 6 July 2018

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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Statistics for trifecta

Last Updated

1 Dec 2018

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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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