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In Chinese tradition, certain numbers are believed by some to be auspicious (吉利) or inauspicious (不利) based on the Chinese word that the number name sounds similar to. The numbers 0, 6, 8, and 9 are believed to have auspicious meanings because their names sound similar to words that have positive meanings. The superstitious aspects of this primarily grow out of the Cantonese Culture, but has taken root through other dialects and regional groups of Chinese.

Lucky numbers


The Number 0 (零 or 檸, Pinyin:líng or níng) is a whole number and it is also an even number for the money ends with 0. Number {11}.


The number 2 (二 or 两, Pinyin:èr or liăng) is most often considered a good number in Chinese culture. There is a Chinese saying: "good things come in pairs". It is common to repeat characters in product brand names, such as double happiness, which even has its own character 囍, a combination of two 喜. In Cantonese, two (jyutping: ji6) is homophone of the characters for "easy" (易) and "bright" (亮). In Northern China, the number, when used as an adjective, can also mean "stupid".[1]


The number 3 (三, Pinyin: sān, jyutping: saam1) sounds similar to the character for "birth" (生, Pinyin: shēng, jyutping: saang1), and is considered a lucky number.[citation needed] The number 3 is significant since there are three important stages in a man’s life (birth, marriage and death).


The number 5 (五, Pinyin: wŭ) is 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. It is also referred to as the pronoun "I"[citation needed], as the pronunciations of "I" (我, Pinyin: wŏ, and 吾, Pinyin: wú) and 5 are similar in Mandarin. In Cantonese, this word has the same pronunciation as the character 唔 and means "not", pronounces (m̀h). This word has the same meaning and use as the word 不 an therefore is usually negative.


The number six pronounced as liù, is similar to the character 流 (liú) which means "to flow" and also sounds like "luck" or "road." The number 6 is also considered lucky in business.


The number 7 (七, Pinyin: qī (Mandarin) "chut" (Cantonese) symbolizes "togetherness". It is a lucky number for relationships. It is also recognized as the luckiest number in the West, and is one of the rare numbers that is great in both Chinese and many Western cultures. It is a lucky number in Chinese culture, because it sounds alike to the Chinese word 起 (Pinyin: qǐ) in Mandarin meaning arise, and also 气 (Pinyin: qì) meaning life essence. In Cantonese it sounds like the verb "to leave" which adds emphasis. For example, three and seven together in Cantonese emphasizes that you not only are able to grow, but you can also grow out of any situation you might be trying to have. It is for this reason it is auspicious. If it was combined with the numbers 4 and 5, i.e. 457, this would be extremely inauspicious as it would translate literally to "Death does not allow you to leave" or interpreted "Even in death you cannot escape."


The word for "eight" (八 Pinyin: bā) sounds similar to the word which means "prosper" or "wealth" ( – often paired with "發財" during Chinese New Years, but is used alone or paired with numerous other "compound words" that have a meaning of luck or success, Pinyin: fā). In regional dialects the words for "eight" and "fortune" are also similar, e.g., Cantonese "baat3" and "faat3". Note as well, this particular symbol matches the mathematical symbol of infinity. While Chinese does have other words for luck, this full understanding of luck that includes the infinity concept marries into a Chinese understanding of this particular word.

There is also a visual resemblance between two digits, "88", and 囍, the "shuāng xĭ" ("double joy"), a popular decorative design composed of two stylized characters 喜 ("xĭ" meaning "joy" or "happiness").

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: jiŭ, jyutping: gau2), 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. It also symbolizes harmony.

Moreover, the number 9 is a homophone of the word for "long lasting" (久), and as such is often used in weddings. It is also a homophone for the words "to have enough", "to save". Hence, when you put it with other words that are lucky, it emphasizes the benefit of that number 89 (To have enough luck), 29 (to easily have enough), 39 (grow enough). Here the word enough means more "to have that which you need to achieve your goals" vs. "just enough." When combined with the number 4, it's still not necessarily auspicious.

Unlucky numbers


Main article: Tetraphobia

Numbers 4 and 14 are omitted in some Chinese buildings.

Number 4 (四; accounting 肆; pinyin ) is considered an unlucky number in Chinese because it is nearly homophonous to the word "death" (死 pinyin ). Due to that, many numbered product lines skip the "4": e.g., Nokia cell phones (before the Lumia 640, there is no series containing a 4 in the name), Palm[citation needed] PDAs, Canon PowerShot G's series (after G3 goes G5), etc. In East Asia, some buildings do not have a 4th floor. (Compare with the Western practice of some buildings not having a 13th floor because 13 is considered unlucky.) In Hong Kong, some high-rise residential buildings omit all floor numbers with "4", e.g., 4, 14, 24, 34 and all 40–49 floors, in addition to not having a 13th floor.[10] As a result, a building whose highest floor is number 50 may actually have only 35 physical floors.

Singaporean public transport operator SBS Transit has omitted the number plates for some of its buses whose numbers end with '4' due to this for their Scania K230UBs and the first batch of Volvo B9TL Wrights, so if a bus is registered as SBS***3*, SBS***4* will be omitted and the next bus to be registered will be SBS***5*. Note that this only applies to certain buses and not others and that the final asterisk is a checksum letter and not a number. In addition, Samudera LRT Station has been closed until 2020 as the code signifies the homonym of "death".

Singaporean public transport operator SMRT has omitted the '4' as the first digit of the serial number of the train cars as well as the SMRT Buses NightRider services.


Five (五, pinyin: wǔ, jyutping: ng5) is associated with "not" (Mandarin 無, pinyin , and Cantonese 唔 m4). If used for the negative connotation it can become good by using it with a negative. Thus, 54 means "no death". 53 ("ng5 saam1" in Cantonese) sounds like "m4 sang1 (唔生)" – "not grow" or alternatively in specific context "not live".


A variant of Seven(七,pronounced "chat7" in Cantonese) in Cantonese is a swearing word pronounced "chat9"(柒, meaning fool), as well, its pronunciation is similar to "痴"(means mad) in Mandarin. Seven is the second single digit unlucky number with less of a bad connotation than 4 in Cantonese society.


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See also


  1. ^ "Tuesday, Feb, 22nd, (2/22/2) The 2 Day for the retarded in China". Retrieved 21 January 2016.
  2. ^ "China's 'lucky' phone number". BBC News. 2003-08-13. Retrieved 24 December 2013.
  3. ^ a b "Patriot games: China makes its point with greatest show" by Richard Williams, The Guardian, published August 9, 2008
  4. ^ "The Fate of the World According to Jerry H. Wang".
  5. ^ Chang, Andrew (25 May 2015). "Treasury Has a Hit With 'Prosperity Notes'". ABC News. Retrieved 1 May 2015.
  6. ^ "Boeing, Xiamen Airlines Celebrate Milestone 8,888th 737 Delivery". Boeing. 28 Jan 2016.
  7. ^ "Dragon Fish Industry Photo Gallery 13". Retrieved 21 January 2016.
  8. ^ "Arowana King & Platinium Xback". Retrieved 21 January 2016.
  9. ^ Moy, Patsy; Yiu, Derek (22 October 2009). "Raising the roof over developer's tall story". The Standard.
  10. ^ Moy, Patsy; Yiu, Derek (22 October 2009). "Raising the roof over developer's tall story". The Standard.
  11. ^ Gao Liwei (2008). "Language change in progress: evidence from computer-mediated communication" (PDF). Proceedings of the North American Conference on Chinese Linguistics. 20: 361–377.