Third Wheel

What does Third Wheel mean?

An individual who feels like they don’t fit in

‘Third wheel’ is a slang term used to describe the out-of-place feeling a person might have when they’re with two other people who are closer or more intimate with each other. This can happen when a person finds themselves in the company of a couple or two best friends.

The term gets its origins from the idea that wheels usually come in pairs or sets of four, just like on bikes or cars, so a third wheel would stick out as being extra or redundant. This perfectly captures the feeling of being the one who doesn’t quite fit in.

Sometimes, a third wheel situation occurs when a couple invites a friend to join them because they feel bad for them. Other times, the third wheel might not realize that they’re intruding on a more intimate situation and should give the other two some space.

Example for using ‘Third Wheel’ in a conversation

Hey, are you free tonight?

Yeah, why? What’s up?

Well, I was planning to go watch a movie with Sarah, but she wants to bring her new boyfriend along.

Oh, so you’re gonna be the third wheel?