The most commonly used one is "third time's a charm". I googled it and couldn't find "three time's a charm" in usage. So is "three time's a charm" considered incorrect?

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    I've never heard 'three times a charm' and it seems like a confusion of the actual adage – BladorthinTheGrey Aug 4 '17 at 12:08
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    I believe that the proverbial usage is actually "Third time's the charm.". – Jeff Zeitlin Aug 4 '17 at 12:20
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    Interesting. In my area of the US (NYC Metro), I don't think I've ever heard "third time lucky" - always TTtC. – Jeff Zeitlin Aug 4 '17 at 13:17
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    @Jim The apostrophe is probably meant as a contraction of "three time is a charm", which just serves to highlight the wrongness of it. – Max Williams Aug 4 '17 at 14:40
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    @MaxWilliams - Yes, my point exactly. – Jim Aug 4 '17 at 15:21

The correct expression is:

the third time is the charm
—used to say that two efforts at something have already failed but perhaps the third will be successful

You will also find third time's the charm and third time's a charm versions of the same.

I've never heard three time's a charm and I believe the inability to find any significant evidence of its usage is indicative.


According to The Phrase Finder:

the American expression 'third time's a charm' [...] may be an [sic] variant of the earlier 'third time lucky' or it may have arisen independently in the USA.

  • Probably because "three times a charm" doesn't make sense. Maybe they'd been listening to The Commodores - "You're once...twice...three times a lady..." – Max Williams Aug 4 '17 at 13:47
  • @MaxWilliams I think they meant "three times is a/the charm". Which does make sense, but isn't used either (or at least not enough to appear on Ngram viewer). – michael.hor257k Aug 4 '17 at 13:54

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