The man they couldn’t hang~!

hangman noose with a dramatic background

Whenever I think I have seen and read it all, they proof me wrong and post another stupid highly questionable prompt. It was pretty lame to begin with and won’t get any better with this rerun either. Maybe the third time posting it will be a charm????

Do I want to write a fictional story about it? Nope, absolutely not! Why write a fictional story about a phrase origins, when the real one is so much better?

The American phrase “Third time’s a charm” or the original, British version “The third time is lucky”…where does that come from?

Why do we belief that we will get lucky with the third attempt? What makes us think we will succeed and will be better, than in the two previous attempts?

I researched it a little bit and voila, Mr. Google and Mrs. Wikipidea helped -as so often- and what I found, was rather interesting:

Under English law, anyone who survived three attempts at hanging would be set free. This is probably from the story of John ‘Babbacombe’ Lee. Lee was a West Country sailor who was convicted of the murder of Emma Keyse at Babbacombe Bay in 1885. He was sentenced to hang at Exeter prison and three attempts to execute him all failed. The Home Secretary of the time, Sir William Harcourt, commuted the sentence to life imprisonment and Lee was later freed. He was known thereafter as ‘the man they couldn’t hang’ and went on to live a long life, dying sometime in the 1940s. Fascinating story though it is, the use of ‘third time lucky’ predates it and thus it can’t be the origin. Nor is any earlier reference to the supposed English law on freeing those who survived three hanging attempts. This legal ruling never existed in any general sense and is restricted to isolated cases like Lee’s.

I liked that~!


History of Language

Write a piece of fiction describing the incident that gave rise to the phrase, “third time’s the charm.”

10 thoughts on “The man they couldn’t hang~!

  1. I always thought it had to do with casting a spell, you have to repeat what you want at least three times, and the third time you say it is what seals the spell.

    I mean, have you ever read any essays on speech giving? They say basically the same thing. Repeat your main point at least three times, but say it differently. Say it the first time to catch the attention of those who listen, then repeat it again later worded differently for those who aren’t listening intently and it might catch their attention. Then the third time for emphasis and for those who might have missed it the first two times. But no more than three times otherwise you’ll lose people’s attention by being repetitive.

    In my mind, those two are connected. ^_^ But I’m weird that way.

    Liked by 1 person

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