Is there anything that makes you break out in a cold sweat? Something that gets under your skin time and again no matter what? This week’s Wacky Word Wednesday on T for Translation explores a fear that might seem comical to some, but is surprisingly deeply rooted in human societies.
This week’s word from TermWiki.com:
Triskaidekaphobia, a compound from the Greek, triskaideka, ‘thirteen,’ and phobia, ‘fear,’ refers to the irrational fear of the number thirteen. This particular phobia is thought to have roots that go way back in human history, with links to early civilizations such as those of the Babylonians and ancient Persians, as well as to Christian and Viking lore. The most apparent way triskaidekaphobia has influenced mainstream societies is the widespread omission of the 13th floor in high-rise buildings.
Triskaidekaphobia may also be classified as a superstition, with Friday the 13th being considered especially inauspicious. Fear of this particular date can be referred to as paraskavedekatriaphobia. The superstition has a strong influence on popular culture by, for example, lending its name to the horror franchise Friday the 13th.
Which numbers are unwanted and which are considered favorable varies from culture to culture. In Chinese culture, for example, the number four is eschewed because of its pronunciation’s resemblance to the Chinese word for death. However, as this picture taken in a Shanghai elevator suggests, the Chinese don’t seem to be especially fond of the number thirteen either.
More well-known and common phobias are arachnophobia (fear of spiders), claustrophobia (fear of enclosed or narrow spaces), and agoraphobia (fear of large open spaces). Examples that are less well-known and perhaps more inclined to make your mouth curl up in a smile are: ephebiphobia (fear of teenagers), geniophobia (fear of chins), kathisophobia (fear of sitting down), and xanthophobia (fear of the color yellow or the word yellow). If you’re hungry for more peculiar phobias, click here for an extensive list.
As usual, we’ll provide you with examples using this week’s word:
- Men’s Wearhouse CEO Doug Ewert blamed the company’s disappointing earnings on couples’ wariness of getting married in the year 2013 because of triskaidekaphobia, or the fear of the number 13. (ABC News)
- It’s best not to meet Jack on the 13th, he’s got a triskaidekaphobic inclination.
What are your biggest fears? Have any stories involving the number thirteen? Feel free to open up in the comment section below! Also, be sure to tread carefully on the upcoming Friday the 13th in December!
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