Is "tri-quarterly" a real English word meaning 3 times a year? Are there any other words that mean 3 times a year?

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    Related: english.stackexchange.com/questions/18540/… Commented Sep 22, 2012 at 19:23
  • Also related: english.stackexchange.com/questions/64086/…
    – J.R.
    Commented Sep 22, 2012 at 19:50
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    A superficial use of google leads one to think that this is 'not a word'. It is used as a title of a literary magazine, but that's about it. I don't think there's anything useful one can say about this word that is anything but speculative.
    – Mitch
    Commented Feb 6, 2013 at 21:22
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    something published every four months might be most acceptably and clearly described as being published "thrice yearly" or "three times a year"
    – user52668
    Commented Sep 23, 2013 at 22:41
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    Tri-quarterly, absolutely, means either (a) every three quarters or (b) three times a quarter. It's that simple. The OPs specific question: "does it mean three times per year": answer is absolutely, definitely NOT.
    – Fattie
    Commented Mar 28, 2014 at 12:43

3 Answers 3


If "tri-quarterly" means anything, surely it would be every third quarter (every nine months). Or possibly three times a quarter, which is monthly. You can't redefine a quarter as a third, though.

Three times a year is triannual — not triennial which is every three years. You could also say every four months; "every four months" is preferable because it removes the possibility of confusion between triennial and triannual.

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    The OED records the adjective triannual as obsolete, but gives it both as ‘occurring every three years’ and ‘occurring thrice a year’. It gives the adjective ‘triennial’ as ‘existing or lasting for three years’ and ‘recurring every three years’. Commented Sep 22, 2012 at 19:10
  • Triannually was what I found as well, but not in the dictionary, but I couldn't find any validation for tri-quarterly although a few magazines use it that are published 3 times a year. I will accept this answer if I don't get any other suggestions.
    – Drai
    Commented Sep 22, 2012 at 20:04
  • It is possible that whoever used the term wanted to convey the idea that the three issues are published in three-month intervals, i.e. quarterly (say, in March, June,and September), and that one quarter is then skipped (in this example, there is no issue in December). Tri-quarterly would, however, still be a very bad term to use for that purpose.
    – jsw29
    Commented Dec 1, 2021 at 16:24

A word that I find used a lot is: tertial

Tertial is a foreign word from Latin meaning a third . In the temporal sense, a third is understood to mean a third of a year , i.e. a period of four months .


Trimester Trimester · Academic term, a trimester system divides the academic year into three terms

  • Confusingly, each term is usually about 13 weeks (the same length as a quarter of the year) to allow for holidays.
    – Peter
    Commented Oct 2, 2022 at 4:34
  • @Peter Also confusingly trimester is used when referring to human pregnancy. In this context there are three trimesters in a full-term pregnancy each trimester being roughly three months or thirteen weeks long. Trimester neatly divides a thirty-six week pregnancy into three parts and I understand that, if the terms are of equal length, how trimester gives the length of the terms but I don't quite get how trimester can be said to divide a fifty-two week year into three parts.
    – BoldBen
    Commented Oct 2, 2022 at 5:11
  • Welcome to ELU. Could you edit your answer to explain clearly how this answers the question about tri-quarterly please?
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented Oct 2, 2022 at 8:09
  • @BoldBen Actually trimester means a 3-month period, so in an academic year you would have a trimester (term), break, trimester, break, trimester, long break. This is consistent with the meaning for pregnancy. I am afraid I confused myself!
    – Peter
    Commented Oct 2, 2022 at 11:32

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