Knocking on wood

"Knock on wood" redirects here. For other uses, see Knock on Wood (disambiguation).
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Knocking on wood - in Britain and Australia the phrase is touch wood - is an apotropaic tradition of literally touching, tapping, or knocking on wood, or merely stating that one is doing or intend to do so, in order to avoid "tempting fate" after making a favourable observation, a boast, or declaration concerning one's own death or other unfavorable situation beyond one's control.

The origin of the custom may be in Greek Mythology, wherein dryads are thought to live in trees, and can be invoked for protection.[1][2]

Similar traditions in other cultures

On an episode of the American TV show The Rifleman, first aired 11/05/1962, an Irish female character stated 'knocking on wood' was done to thank Leprechauns for the good luck they had provided

See also


  1. Origin of Knock on Wood. The origin of knocking on wood for this purpose is believed by some to be from early pagan mythology. Wood gods, or dryads, lived in trees, and people would go to them for blessings and to prevent bad luck.
  2. Touch Wood for Luck: The History & Superstition of 'Touch Wood'. One explanation states that the tradition derived from the Pagans who thought that trees were the homes of fairies, spirits, dryads and many other mystical creatures. In these instances, people might knock or touch wood to request good luck, or to distract spirits with evil intentions. When in need of a favour or some good luck, one politely mentioned this wish to a tree and then touched the bark, representing the first "knock." The second "knock" was to say "thank you." The knocking was also supposed to prevent evil spirits from hearing your speech and as such stop them from interfering. Alternatively, some traditions have it that by knocking upon wood, you would awaken and release the benevolent wood fairies that dwelt there.
  3. "Superstitions in Italy". 2007-01-20. Retrieved 2011-12-03.
  4. Firestone, Allie. "Knock on Wood: Superstitions and Their Origins". Divine Caroline. Retrieved 3 January 2014.
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