Idioms: Third Degree

What is the origin of the idiom “Third Degree?”

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  1. Third degree burns are serious, typically requiring skin grafts to heal.
  2. Police interviewing techniques are organized into degrees.  The third degree allows nonviolent physical contact.
  3. Based on Euclid’s masterwork of geometry where he first described the three degrees of plane geometry.   This remained the standard until Einstein added the fourth degree, or dimension, of time.
  4. There are three degrees of membership in Masonic lodges, the third being the most difficult to achieve.