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Third class vs Third-rate

third class

1. (railway carriages) the class next below the second:

  • Ladies traveling alone would never have traveled third class. Even ladies’ maids always traveled second.

2. the lowest honors degree obtained from a British university:

  • Some of my best friends got a third class degree, and they’re amongst the most successful people I know.

third-ratedecidedly poor in point of quality:

  • Do you honestly think Microsoft or Disney would hire a “third-rate” lawyer from an “undistinguished firm”?