A la tercera va la vencida

“A la tercera va la vencida”.

We tell you the origin of one of the most used sayings in Spain: third time lucky.

A la tercera va la vencida

¿What does it mean?

The saying refers to the repetition of actions for the same endeavor, and to effort. When you’re pursuing a goal, sometimes you need to try more than once. Well, when someone has more than two attempts, they usually say “third time lucky”, as a sign of encouragement.

We could use it, for example, in this case: if someone is examining their driver’s license and has already failed twice, we will say “cheer up, third time lucky!”.

According to Centro Virtual Cervantes, in its refranero section, the meaning is as follows:


This phrase is used when the first attempt does not achieve the end we intend, but after repeating them with greater zeal. It is said both after the second attempt and the third: in the first case, to express the wish that what is being attempted be made a reality; in the second case, to confirm that the desired end has been achieved for the third attempt. It may also mean that it is prudent to desist from doing so after three unsuccessful attempts.

And where does the saying come from?

As many of the sayings we continue to use today, it is centuries old. It most likely comes from the medieval jousts (between the 5th and 15th centuries). The jousting were proof of struggle in which there were three attempts to shoot down the enemy.

In this video of the program Cero en Historia they explain the saying “a la tercera va la vencida” with clarity and a lot of humor:

*Tip: Activate the Spanish subtitles to watch the video.


We hope you find it interesting!


A la tercera va la vencida

Other Proverbs

To turn the tortilla around
No hay mala cocinera con tomates a la vera
Lo que agosto madura, septiembre lo asegura
Agua de febrero, llena el granero