What is the meaning of this idiom?

At price points for a cluster that start below $45,000, a VxRail appliance is the third leg of the stool.

  • Upsell.
    – Spencer
    Commented Mar 1, 2017 at 11:39
  • 4
    It appears to be a fairly literal use of "stool" as a metaphor. A stool can't stand with fewer than 3 legs.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Mar 1, 2017 at 12:44
  • 3
    Plus, a three-legged stool is always stable and cannot rock as a four-legged stool can. Commented Mar 1, 2017 at 15:39
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    Years ago Novell temporarily took control of Unix. They announced it as 'we put more legs on the stool'. Evidently they thought that meant something. It didn't. Stools already have enough legs, otherwise they aren't stools, and they already had enough legs on their own stool. They divested themselves of Unix PDQ after several disastrous shipments which only demonstrated they didn't have a clue.
    – user207421
    Commented Mar 2, 2017 at 4:28

4 Answers 4


The whole citation explain quite well what are the other legs (emphasis mine) of the metaphoric stool. The offer from the vendor is composed of three main lines of product, two of them seeming more traditionnal and more usual than this "new" offering.

The last product is part of a range of products and makes the offer from the vendor complete and well-balanced...like the third leg of stool.

Between the Block family and VxRail lies VxRack, an architecture that scales linearly with the addition of up to more than one thousand nodes. VxRack uses a leaf-spine network architecture and implements ScaleIO or VMware Cloud Foundation for software-defined storage and deployment of a virtualized NSX network layer over the physical network.

At price points for a cluster that start below $45,000, a VxRail appliance is the third leg of the stool.

By the way,just in case this is the part that confuses you, the stool in question is that type (not the biological one)

three legged stool

  • 2
    +1 for a nice answer. Also for "not the biological one" :D
    – Jan Nash
    Commented Mar 1, 2017 at 18:11
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    I'm confused. The item in your picture is made of biological material :-P Commented Mar 2, 2017 at 1:35

Presumably it refers to one of several elements of a whole that together are necessary for it to do what it needs to do, just like a stool needs a third leg to stand up.

I'm guessing the text this sentence comes from is describing a system, talked about two other vital elements of it and is now getting to this one ?


"The third leg of the stool" relates to the reliance of a piece of furniture (a stool) on its three legs to support it. Each leg takes an equal amount of strain from the sitter and is, therefore, equally important and useful. The stool's legs are used as a metaphor that represent three aspects of an entity which are inter-reliant and dependent upon one another for the function of the larger entity.

"Quality merchandise" might be the "third leg of the stool" in developing a shoe business that already has "excellent customer service" and an "advanced stock administration system".


Yes, I do agree with Rozenn Keribin! The third leg is indeed needed for the stability of the stool. It represents anything which provides stability (with the help of first two legs). A simple example: You are the first leg and your wife is the second. But what is required for you to lead a happy life is the relationship between you two. Thus, 'relationship' can be considered as the third leg of a stool here, which gives you balance and stability.

  • So I can translate it like this: VxRail appliance that the price of a cluster of them start from below 45000$ is an important thing?
    – rurilifree
    Commented Mar 1, 2017 at 11:38
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    (hey I can comment !) It's more like : if you are making a cluster using less than $45000, then VxRail is a vital element you need to build that cluster. (and so are the two other elements mentioned in the article, as the three interact together to hold the whole thing up, like the three legs of a stool)
    – Oosaka
    Commented Mar 1, 2017 at 11:56

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