Row 17 is omitted on this Alitalia plane

Heptadecaphobia (Greek: δεκαεπτά dekaepta, "seventeen" and φόβος, phobos, "fear") or heptadekaphobia is the fear of the number 17. It is considered to be ill-fated in Italy and other countries of Greek and Latin origins, while the date Friday the 17th is considered especially unfortunate in Italy. The number is feared due to superstition, and is similar in nature to the fear of the number 13 in Anglo-Saxon countries.


In Ancient Greece, the number 17 was despised by followers of Pythagoras, as the number was between 16 and 18, which were perfect representations of 4×4 and 3×6 quadrilaterals, respectively.[1]

In the Old Testament, it is written that the universal flood began on the 17th of the second month (Genesis, 7–11).[2]

It has been suggested that the Romans found the number 17 disturbing because in Roman numerals XVII is an anagram of vixi, meaning "I have lived" (i.e. I am dead).[3]

In La smorfia napoletana, a "dictionary" that associated certain vocabulary words to numbers to be played in the lottery, the number 17 is associated with 'a Disgrazzia ("misfortune").[4]

Friday the 17th

In Italy, Friday the 17th is a date of misfortune, as it is a date of two negatives: Friday (from Good Friday, the day of Jesus' death) and the number 17.[5]

Friday the 17th is similar to other unfortunate dates: for example, in Anglo-Saxon countries, this date is Friday the 13th, while in Spain, Greece, and South America, this date is Tuesday the 13th.

In mass media, the theme is portrayed in movies, such as The Virtuous Bigamist (Italian: Era di venerdì 17) and Shriek If You Know What I Did Last Friday the 13th (Italian: Shriek - Hai impegni per venerdì 17?), where in English the title refers to the number 13.)

See also


  1. ^ "17, la iella in numeri". gruppi.cicap.org (in Italian). Retrieved 9 January 2020.
  2. ^ "Bible Gateway passage: Genesis 7:11 - King James Version". Bible Gateway. Retrieved 9 January 2020.
  3. ^ Jasiński, Jakub. "Unhappy number 17 « Imperium Romanum". Retrieved 24 October 2022.
  4. ^ "Numero 17 nella smorfia napoletana - 'a Disgrazzia ( La sfortuna)". Smorfia.org (in Italian). 7 July 2016. Retrieved 9 January 2020.
  5. ^ "Venerdì 17, una giornata temuta". TGCOM (in Italian). 16 October 2008. Archived from the original on 17 October 2008.