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Some numbers are believed by some to be auspicious or lucky (吉利, pinyin: jílì; Cantonese Yale: gātleih) or inauspicious or unlucky (不吉, pinyin: bùjí; Cantonese Yale: bātgāt) based on the Chinese word that the number sounds similar to. The numbers 2, 3, 6, and 8 are generally considered to be lucky, while 4 is considered unlucky. These traditions are not unique to Chinese culture, with other countries with a history of Han characters also having similar beliefs stemming from these concepts.


The number 0 (零, pinyin: líng) is the beginning of all things and is generally considered a good number, because it sounds like 良 (pinyin: liáng), which means 'good'.


The number 1 (一, pinyin: ; Cantonese Yale: yāt) is neither auspicious nor inauspicious. It is a number given to winners to indicate the first place. But it can also symbolize loneliness or being single. For example: November 11 is the Singles' Day in China, as the date has four ‘1’ which stand for singles.


The number 2 (二, cardinal, pinyin: èr or 兩, used with units, pinyin: liǎng) is most often considered a good number in Chinese culture. In Cantonese, 2 (二 or 兩, Cantonese Yale: yih or léuhng) is homophonous with the characters for "easy" (易, Cantonese Yale: yih) and "bright" (亮, Cantonese Yale: leuhng), respectively. There is a Chinese saying: "good things come in pairs". It is common to repeat characters in product brand names, such as the character 喜 (pinyin: ; Cantonese Yale: héi; lit. 'joy'), can be repeated to form the character 囍 (pinyin: shuāng xǐ; Cantonese Yale: sēung héi; lit. 'double joy').


The number 3 (三, pinyin: sān; Cantonese Yale: sāam) sounds like 生 (pinyin: shēng; Cantonese Yale: sāang), which means "to live" or "life" so it's considered a good number. It's significant since it is one of three important stages in a person's life (birth, marriage, and death).
On the other hand, number 3 (三,pinyin: sān; Cantonese Yale: sāam) sounds like 散 (pinyin: sàn; Cantonese Yale: saan) which means "to split" or "to separate" or "to part ways" or "to break up with" so it is a bad number too.


Main article: Tetraphobia

Numbers 4, 13 and 14 are omitted in some Chinese buildings.
Numbers 4, 13 and 14 are omitted in some Chinese buildings.

The number 4 (四, pinyin: ; Cantonese Yale: sei) is considered an unlucky number in Chinese because it is nearly homophonous to the word "death" (死 pinyin: ; Cantonese Yale: séi).[1][2]

Thus, some buildings in East Asia omit floors and room numbers containing 4, similar to the Western practice of some buildings not having a 13th floor because 13 is considered unlucky. Where East Asian and Western cultures blend, such as in Hong Kong, it is possible in some buildings that the thirteenth floor along with all the floors with 4s to be omitted. Thus a building whose top floor is numbered 100 would in fact have just eighty one floors. Similarly in Vietnamese, the number 4 (四) is called tứ in Sino-Vietnamese, which sounds like tử () (death) in Vietnamese.[citation needed]


The number 5 (五, pinyin: ; Cantonese Yale: ńg) sounds like "me" in Mandarin (吾, pinyin: ; lit. 'me') and Cantonese (唔, Cantonese Yale: ; lit. 'not').

Five is also associated with the five elements (Water, Fire, Earth, Wood, and Metal) in Chinese philosophy, and in turn was historically associated with the Emperor of China. For example, the Tiananmen gate, being the main thoroughfare to the Forbidden City, has five arches.


The number 6 (六, pinyin: liù) in Mandarin sounds like "slick" or "smooth" (溜, pinyin: liū). In Cantonese, 6 (Cantonese Yale: lok6) sounds like "good fortune" or "happiness" (祿, 樂 Cantonese Yale: lok6). Therefore 6 is considered a good number for business.[3]


The number 7 (七, pinyin: ) in Mandarin sounds like "even" in Mandarin (齊, pinyin: ), so it is a good number for relationships. It also sounds like "arise" (起, pinyin: ) and "life essence" (氣, pinyin: ) in Mandarin. Seven can also be considered an unlucky number since the 7th month (July) is a "ghost month". It also sounds like "to deceive" (欺, pinyin: ) in Mandarin. In Cantonese, 7 (Cantonese Yale: chāt) sounds like 𨳍 (Cantonese Yale: chat), which is a vulgar way of saying "penis".


"Double joy" ring design
"Double joy" ring design

The number 8 (八, pinyin: ; Cantonese Yale: baat) sounds like "發" (pinyin: ; Cantonese Yale: faat; lit. 'to prosper'). There is also a visual resemblance between 88 and 囍 (pinyin: shuāng xǐ; Cantonese Yale: sēung héi; lit. 'double joy'), a popular decorative design composed of two stylized characters 喜 (pinyin: ; Cantonese Yale: héi; lit. 'joy').

The number 8 is viewed as such an auspicious number that even being assigned a number with several eights is considered very lucky.


The number 9 (九, pinyin: jiǔ; Cantonese Yale: gáu) was historically associated with the Emperor of China, and the number was frequently used in matters relating to the Emperor, before the establishment of the imperial examinations officials were organized in the nine-rank system, the nine bestowments were rewards the Emperor made for officials of extraordinary capacity and loyalty, while the nine familial exterminations was one of the harshest punishments the Emperor sentenced; the Emperor's robes often had nine dragons, and Chinese mythology held that the dragon has nine children. Also, the number 9 sounds like "long lasting" (久, pinyin: jiǔ; Cantonese Yale: gáu), so it is often used in weddings.

In Cantonese, the number 9 is also a vulgar way of saying penis (𨳊, Cantonese Yale: gāu), similar to 7 as well, with 9 referring to an erect penis instead.


See also


  1. ^ Panesar, Nirmal S; Chan, Noel C Y; Li, Shi N; Lo, Joyce K Y; Wong, Vivien W Y; Yang, Isaac B; Yip, Emily K Y (December 2003). "Is four a deadly number for the Chinese?" (PDF). Medical Journal of Australia. 179 (11): 656. doi:10.5694/j.1326-5377.2003.tb05741.x. PMID 14636150. S2CID 5844996. Retrieved 7 April 2023.
  2. ^ "How Chinese Superstition About the Number 4 Makes Beijing Traffic Worse". Bloomberg News. 28 September 2015. Retrieved 7 April 2023.
  3. ^ "Chinese Numbers 1 to 10 | maayot". maayot • Bite-size daily Chinese stories. 2021-11-22. Retrieved 2021-11-22.
  4. ^ "Australian New Business Visa Subclasses". Australian Department of Home Affairs. 2019-08-14. Retrieved 14 August 2019.
  5. ^ "China's 'lucky' phone number". BBC News. 2003-08-13. Retrieved 24 December 2013.
  6. ^ "Patriot games: China makes its point with greatest show" by Richard Williams, The Guardian, published August 9, 2008
  7. ^ Brown, August (February 10, 2018). "Rich Brian and the Double Happiness Tour Brings Rising Asian Rap to L.A." Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 12 April 2021.
  8. ^ "Announcing DOUBLE HAPPINESS Winter Festival ft. #NXWORRIES (Anderson .Paak x Knxwledge) ATEEZ 청하 (CHUNG HA) & more!". Facebook. November 25, 2020. Archived from the original on 2022-02-26. Retrieved 12 April 2021.
  9. ^ Chang, Andrew (25 May 2015). "Treasury Has a Hit With 'Prosperity Notes'". ABC News. Retrieved 1 May 2015.
  10. ^ "Boeing, Xiamen Airlines Celebrate Milestone 8,888th 737 Delivery". Boeing. 28 Jan 2016.
  11. ^ "Dragon Fish Industry Photo Gallery 13". Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 21 January 2016.
  12. ^ "Arowana King & Platinium Xback". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 21 January 2016.
  13. ^ Moy, Patsy; Yiu, Derek (22 October 2009). "Raising the roof over developer's tall story". The Standard. Archived from the original on 4 June 2011.