three R's

three R's

noun
1.
reading, 'riting, and 'rithmetic, regarded as the fundamentals of education.
2.
the fundamentals, basic knowledge, or skills of any system or field: the three R's of good government.

Origin:
1820–30

Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

three R's

The fundamentals of education, as in It's a terrible school; the children are not even taught the three R's. It is widely believed that Sir William Curtis, an alderman who became Lord Mayor of London, once presented a toast to the three R'sreading, riting, and rithmeticthereby betraying his illiteracy. In any event, the term was picked up by others and so used from the early 1800s on.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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