Why Do People Knock On Wood? Meaning And Origins

Photo: sakkarin sapu/Shutterstock.com
Why Do People Knock On Wood? Meaning And Origins
Contributor
Self

Your friend hopes for good luck and neither of you wants anything bad to happen.

In the middle of your conversation, superstition takes over, and suddenly you're knocking on wood to ward off bad luck.

We've all heard the expression ’knock on wood’ before but many of us are still unsure what this means.

Let's break down the meaning and origin of wood knocking.

Why do people knock on wood? Meaning and Origins

Knocking on wood is a superstition that started way back in the 19th century.

RELATED: 60 Common Superstitions People Around The World Believe In

You might knock on wood and have done so because you saw someone else do it.

You may not even know why you bother to knock on wood.

What is the origin and meaning of knock on wood?

It is believed to have originated from ancient pagan cultures.

Ancient pagan cultures believed that spirits lived in wood and trees.

What does it mean to knock on wood?

Many believed that to say thank you for good luck or to call for a spirit’s help, you should knock on wood.

Other people believe that the legend is actually the opposite.

They believe that the ancient pagan cultures would knock on the tree trunks to scare away any spirits that may take away their good fortune.

I doubt that many of us still believe that there are spirits, good or bad, living inside the trunks of trees or wooden furniture.

What does knock on wood mean slang?

Nowadays it is believed that if you knock on wood when making a statement about being lucky, you won’t lose your luck.

For example, if I went to an interview for my dream job and thought it went well.

I might say something along the lines of, ‘I’m pretty sure I got the job but knock on wood.’

RELATED: The Bad Luck Superstition You Actually Believe In, Based On Your Zodiac Sign

Still, confused? Here’s another example, let’s say that I was suffering a terrible migraine and it finally went away.

I might say something like ‘ugh it’s finally gone, knock on wood’.

The saying is basically used to avoid jinxing yourself and losing your good luck.

The expression is most commonly used when the stakes are high.

If you’re talking about something important to you and you’re feeling like things could be too good to be true.

You will likely say ‘knock on wood’ after telling others your good fortune.

Some people even go as far as actually knocking on something wooden, like a table or door, while saying it.

Does knocking on wood really work?

That really depends on the person.

Many believe that it does in fact work because it gives you peace of mind that your luck is protected.

In return, you will act with more confidence in your endeavors because you feel you have not ruined your chances.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Join now for YourTango's trending articles, top expert advice and personal horoscopes delivered straight to your inbox each morning.

Some don’t believe that it works at all.

But it really depends on who you ask and how strongly their superstition is.

What is an example of knocking on wood?

Some people take knocking on wood seriously.

And they will even knock on wood for you if you are bragging about the good fortune that has come your way.

Some will knock on plastic if that's all they have around.

If no wood or plastic is around, people will jokingly pretend to knock on wood by playfully knocking on their own heads.

They hold the belief so dearly that they can’t fathom the fact that you aren’t worried about losing your luck.

RELATED: What Your Birthmark Says About You, Based On Ancient Superstition

I’ve found that the more superstitious a person is in general, the more they believe in the knock-on-wood expression.

However, regardless of how superstitious you are, give it a try if you think it will help you be more confident in your luck.

If it makes you feel better, what harm can knocking on wood do?

Lindsey Matthews is a writer who covers love and relationships, news, and pop-culture topics.