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Alteration of Latin tripus, as though with a Greek ending. For the examination: the word is supposed to refer to the three-legged stool formerly used at the examinations for these honours, though some derive it from the three brackets formerly printed on the back of the paper.



tripos (plural triposes)

  1. (obsolete) A three-legged structure; a tripod.
    • 1621, Democritus Junior [pseudonym; Robert Burton], The Anatomy of Melancholy, Oxford: Printed by Iohn Lichfield and Iames Short, for Henry Cripps, OCLC 216894069:, New York Review of Books, 2001, p.73:
      Thales sent the golden tripos, which the fishermen found and the oracle commanded to be “given to the wisest”, to Bias, Bias to Solon, etc.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Dryden to this entry?)
  2. Any of the final examinations for a BA honours degree at Cambridge University.