3 (three) is a number, numeral, and glyph. It is the natural number following 2 and preceding 4, and is the smallest odd prime number. It has religious or cultural significance in many societies.
The use of three lines to denote the number 3 is only natural[clarification needed] and occurred in many writing systems, including some (like Roman and Chinese numerals) that are still in use.
In particular, that was also the original representation of 3 in the Brahmin Indians' numerical notation. However, during the Gupta Empire the sign was modified by the addition of a curve on each line. The Nagari rotated the lines clockwise[clarification needed], ended each line with a short downward stroke on the right. In cursive, script the three strokes were eventually connected to form a glyph resembling "3" with an additional stroke at the bottom as "३".
The Hindu[clarification needed] numerals spread to the Caliphate in the 9th century. The bottom stroke was dropped around the 10th century in the western parts of the Caliphate, such as the Maghreb and Al-Andalus, when a distinct variant ("Western Arabic") of the digit symbols developed, including modern Western 3. In contrast, the Eastern Arabs retained and enlarged that stroke, rotating the character once more to yield the modern ("Eastern") Arabic digit "٣".
In most modern Western typefaces, the "3" glyph, like the other decimal digits, has the height of a capital letter, and sits on the baseline. In typefaces with text figures, on the other hand, the glyph usually has the height of a lowercase letter "x" and a descender: "￼". In some French text-figure typefaces, though, it has an ascender instead of a descender.