Knocking on wood (also phrased touching wood) is an apotropaic tradition of literally touching, tapping, or knocking on wood, or merely stating that one is doing or intending to do so, in order to avoid "tempting fate" after making a favorable prediction or boast, or a declaration concerning one's own death or another unfavorable situation.


A common explanation traces the phenomenon to ancient Celtic peoples, who believed it called on spirits or gods of the trees,[1][2] while Christians tie the practice to the wood of the cross of crucifixion.[2] A more modern theory from folklore researcher Steve Roud suggests it derives from a form of tag called "Tiggy Touchwood" in which players are safe from being tagged if they are touching wood.[2] The British version of the phrase "touch wood" has been traced back as far as the 17th century.[3]

Similar traditions across the world

Knocking on wood in the Oval Office (2015)


  1. ^ Ray (2017-05-18). "Why do we knock on wood?". TED-Ed Blog. Retrieved 2022-08-26.
  2. ^ a b c Andrews, Evan (August 29, 2016). "Why do people knock on wood for luck?". History.
  3. ^ "Knock on wood and touch wood". 2015-11-20. Retrieved 2022-08-26.
  4. ^ Миливојевић, Зоран. "Да куцнем у дрво".
  5. ^ Fernanes de Melo Santos, Jair (2020). Christ Meets Culture: The influence of Sociocultural Factors on Translation of Gospel in Brazil. Wipf & Sock. ISBN 978-1-7252-7460-0.
  6. ^ Firestone, Allie. "Knock on Wood: Superstitions and Their Origins". Divine Caroline. Archived from the original on 3 January 2014. Retrieved 3 January 2014.
  7. ^ "Superstitions in Italy". 2007-01-20. Retrieved 2011-12-03.
  8. ^ Supersticiones arraigadas - Selecciones
  9. ^ MB T (26 September 2009). "St. Catherine's Monastery Semantron". Archived from the original on 2021-12-22 – via YouTube.
  10. ^ "Постучи по дереву, чтоб не сглазить".
  11. ^ "Откуда пошла традиция стучать по дереву и трижды плевать через левое плечо?". 22 May 2017.

See also