an old measure of capacity equivalent to one third of a pipe, or 42 wine gallons.
a cask or vessel holding this quantity.
Also, terce. Ecclesiastical. the third of the seven canonical hours, or the service for it, originally fixed for the third hour of the day (or 9 a.m.).
Fencing. the third of eight defensive positions.
Piquet. a sequence of three cards of the same suit, as an ace, king, and queen (tierce major) or a king, queen, and jack (tierce minor)
Obsolete. a third or third part.

1325–75; Middle English < Middle French, feminine of tiers < Latin tertius third

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World English Dictionary
terce or tierce (tɜːs)
chiefly RC Church the third of the seven canonical hours of the divine office, originally fixed at the third hour of the day, about 9 a.m.
[a variant of tierce]
tierce or tierce
[a variant of tierce]

tierce (tɪəs)
1.  a variant of terce
2.  the third of eight basic positions from which a parry or attack can be made in fencing
3.  cards a sequence of three cards in the same suit
4.  an obsolete measure of capacity equal to 42 wine gallons
[C15: from Old French, feminine of tiers third, from Latin tertius]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

"old unit of measure equal to one-third of a pipe (42 gallons)," 1530s, from O.Fr., from L. tertia, fem. of tertius "a third," from base of tres "three." Also used in Eng. for "a third part" (1490s), and "the third hour of the canonical day" (ending at 9 a.m.), late 14c.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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