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Posts Tagged ‘unlucky’

Not-So-Lucky Numbers

Most people have their usual “Lucky” number (mine is 8, but I’ll go with 4 or 9 in a pinch).  Your average Bingo player usually has a few of their own.  Some players might consider B-11 or O-69 their “Lucky” number, and will try to find bingo cards that have them — even better if that number is in a corner!  Other bingo players might use their date of birth as their “Lucky” numbers.  However chosen, I’m pretty sure that most of us do have our “Lucky” numbers.

I also have what I consider my “Unlucky” numbers.  I don’t care for the number 6 (though I won’t go out of my way to avoid it) and after one ill-fated bingo game, I have a small measure of disdain for G-55.

Let’s look at some “Unlucky” numbers and see how they came to be…

Number 13

I think we’re all familiar with the “Unlucky” number 13.  Did you know there is a big, fancy-schmancy word for people who are afraid of the number 13?  It’s called Triskaidekaphobia.  Now, if you’re only afraid of Friday the 13th, then you get two whoppin’ big word choices:  paraskevidekatriaphobia or friggatriskaidekaphobia.  I can’t pronounce them, but any of those three words will certainly get ya a bucketload of Scrabble points.

Number 4

In several Asian countries, the number 4 is considered unlucky.  This is called tetraphobia.  It’s not unusual to find a building that doesn’t have a 4th floor, so to speak (they skip from 3 to 5).  The reason for this is that in certain Asian dialects, the pronunciation of the number 4 is phonetically similar to the word for “death”.  Okay, if our numbers sounded like “one, two, three, DEATH, five…”, I could totally get behind some tetraphobia myself.

Number 17

In Italy, number 17 wins the unlucky number lotto.  If you write out number 17 in Roman numerals, it reads as XVII.  After a quick rearrangement, a la Soul Train, you get “VIXI”. Vixi in Latin means “I have lived” (past tense), which also translates as “I’m dead”.

Number 3

Number 3 gets a bit of the good luck, and a bit of the bad luck vibes. In some Asian countries, the word for 3 sounds remarkably similar to the word for “alive”, and is therefore considered a LUCKY number.  However, in Vietnam it’s considered BAD luck to have a photo taken with 3 people in it.  Also, I’m sure most of us are familiar with the negative stigma placed on the number 3, such as “bad things come in threes” and “deaths come in threes”.

Number 5

Number 5: In Cantonese, the word for 5 sounds like the word for “not”. When a 5 appears in front of another number (such as 57 or 543), that number becomes an “unlucky” number.  So, I guess my G-55 gets a double-whammy there.

Number 9

In Japan, the number 9 sounds like the word for “pain” or “distress”, and is often considered unlucky.  It’s funny… if you go by that sort of logic, you would think our number 1 would be a lucky number since it sounds like “won”, or maybe 8 would be lucky if you’re hungry… but I digress.


Whether silly or sensible, lucky numbers and unlucky numbers have been around a long time — and I don’t see that trend changing anytime soon.  Afterall, if we didn’t have “lucky” numbers, how would we choose our lottery numbers?  The folks who type on those tiny strips of paper inside fortune cookies would have to put something else on the reverse side. If we didn’t have “unlucky” numbers, who would we blame when Friday the 13th rolls around and it turns out to be a bad hair day?  And it can’t be MY fault when I lose a bingo game after the lady next to me wins on G-55.

Dang G-55!  I was set, too.