Proverb: Two is company, three is a crowd (1856)

Garson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Sun Feb 14 03:28:15 UTC 2010

Citation: 1856 January, The North American Review, Bartol's Pictures
of Europe, Page 36, Crosby Nichols and Company, Boston. (Google Books
full view.)

Travelling in company is obviously unfavorable to the flexibility, the
enterprise, and the variety of a foreign tour. "Two is company, three
is a crowd," is almost as true of travel, as it is of conversation.

The Yale Book of Quotations traces the proverb "Two is company, three
is a crowd" back to 1892, so I hope that this cite proves to be an
acceptable antedating.

The OED has several proverbs listed under the headword: company.
"Two's company, three's none" has a cite dated 1732. But I was unable
to locate "Two is company, three is a crowd" in the online OED.

The Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs (2009) groups "Two is company, but
three is none" together with the proverb ending in "three's a crowd".
The earliest cite is dated 1706 for a partial quote. The cite for
"Two's company, three's a crowd" is dated 1944.

The ADS list archive contains a fun 1914 variant: "Two's a couple,
three's a crowd, four in a buggy is not allowed."


The American Dialect Society -

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