According to dictionary.com, the origin of the term triune was between:

1595–1605; tri- + -une < Latin ūnus one

What are some of the earliest uses of the English triune, as well as it's Latin and Greek (if such exist) equivalents?

  • What constitutes a Greek or Latin equivalent? Is Τριάδος equivalent? It would typically be translated as Trinity.
    – bradimus
    Jul 27, 2017 at 12:26
  • @bradimus I'm not really sure there is a Greek equivalent. Google says it's τρισυπόστατος. I don't know anything about Latin but I assume it's triūnus.
    – Cannabijoy
    Jul 27, 2017 at 12:53
  • 1
    Since you are looking for the earliest use of specific words rather than the theological concept attached to the word, you might get better answers at english.stackexchange.com
    – bradimus
    Jul 27, 2017 at 13:26
  • 1
    Most straight forward etymology questions get shot down pretty quickly on ELU. You're asking about the adjective, but I take it that you've already seen the question about the noun: When was the word “trinity” first applied to God in Christianity? Jul 27, 2017 at 19:17
  • @Nathaniel Yes I would like to know about the adjective. I was surprised to see that's it's a fairly new word. I know it means the same thing as trinity, but sometimes theology can make adjectives mean brand new things. Should I ask about when triune was first used specifically towards the triune god, or is my question okay as it is?
    – Cannabijoy
    Jul 27, 2017 at 23:50

1 Answer 1


The OED gives this as the earliest English usage of the term "triune":

1605   T. Tymme tr. J. Du Chesne Pract. Chymicall & Hermeticall Physicke ii. ii. 108
   It hath pleased the omnipotent Creator to..showe himself a Unitrine or Triune.

According to the Index Thomisticus, triunus (or any of its forms) is not found in the works of St. Thomas Aquinas, so the Latin term triunus is probably more recent than the 13th century.

  • Thanks Geremia, I don't have access to that encyclopedia so this helps a lot. I wonder why Unitrine never took off.
    – Cannabijoy
    Jul 30, 2017 at 14:01
  • @anonymouswho The OED says "unitrine" is obsolete, and it gives only the Tymme quote above illustrating the usage of "unitrine". There are several quotes given for "triune".
    – Geremia
    Jul 31, 2017 at 14:31

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .