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Two’s company, three’s a crowd

  • Two’s company, three’s a crowd is a proverb with roots that stretch back at least to the 1600s. A proverb is a short, common saying or phrase. These common sayings are language tools that particularly give advice or share a universal truth, or impart wisdom. Synonyms for proverb include adage, aphorism, sayings, and byword, which can also be someone or something that is the best example of a group. Often, a proverb is so familiar that a speaker will only quote half of it, relying on the listener to supply the ending of the written or spoken proverb himself. Speakers of English as a second language are sometimes confused by these pithy sayings as translations from English to other languages do not carry the impact that the English phrases carry. Some common proverbs are the wise sayings better late than never, early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise, an apple a day keeps the doctor away, haste makes waste, blood is thicker than water, and a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. One of the books of the Bible is the Book of Proverbs, which contains words and phrases that are still often quoted in the English language because they are wise. Many current proverbs are quotations taken from literature, particularly Shakespeare, as well as the Bible and other sacred writings. We will examine the meaning of the expression two’s company, three’s a crowd, where it came from, and some examples of its use in sentences.


     

    Two’s company, three’s a crowd is quoted when two people want to be alone together and the presence of a third person stops that from happening. Usually, when a couple invokes the proverb two’s company, three’s a crowd, they are romantically involved. However, sometimes the proverb is used when two friends do not enjoy the company of a third person. The origin of the phrase two’s company, three’s a crowd is traced to a proverb quoted in John Ray’s 1678 collection of English Proverbs: “One’s too few, three too many.” By the 1800s three versions of the proverb were in use: “Two’s company but three are none”; “Two’s company but three’s trumpery”; and “Two’s company but three’s a crowd.” The proverb two’s’ company, three’s a crowd seems to have appeared in America in the 1850s. Interestingly, the proverb contains contractions. A form without contractions (two is company, three is a crowd) is rarely seen.

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    Examples

    Canada: Two’s Company; Three’s A Crowd – Competition Tribunal Okays Vancouver Airport Authority’s Ability To Limit Number Of In-Flight Caterers (Mondaq News)

    Therein lies the tension in Sincerely, Oscar, the meandering mindbender at the Acorn Theatre where two’s company, three’s a crowd, and thirty songs take us on a jazzed-up journey through Show Boat, Oklahoma!, Carousel, State Fair, Allegro, South Pacific, The King and I, and The Sound of Music. (Broadway World)

    THE saying two’s company, three’s a crowd, seems to be the case for a trio of female Strictly Come Dancing professionals. (The Sun)

    Eyal was first accused of being a big bastard when, while Alex was having a private chat with Megan, Eyal came over and confirmed to us all that indeed ‘two’s company, three’s a crowd’. (Cosmopolitan Magazine)


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