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A four-leaf clover is often considered to bestow good luck.

Luck or fortuity is good or bad fortune in life caused by accident or chance, and attributed by some to reasons of faith or superstition, which happens beyond a person's control.[1][2][3]

The term "luck" is pervasive in common speech.[4] There are at least two senses people usually mean when they use the term, the proscriptive sense and the descriptive sense. In a proscriptive sense, luck is the deterministic concept that there is a force which proscribes that certain events occur very much the way the laws of physics will proscribe that certain events occur. In a descriptive sense, luck is only a descriptive name we give to events after they occur which we find to be fortuitous.

Cultural views of luck vary from perceiving luck as a matter of random chance to attributing to luck explanations of faith or superstition. For example, the Romans believed in the embodiment of luck as the Goddess Fortuna,[5] while the atheist and philosopher Daniel Dennett believes that "luck is mere luck" rather than a property of a person or thing.[6]

Lucky Symbols have widespread global appeal and are represented by human, animal, botanical and inanimate objects.


1926 US advertisement for lucky jewellery . "Why Be Unlucky?".

Luck is a way of understanding a personal chance event. Luck has three aspects [7] [8] which make it distinct from chance or probability. [9]

Some examples of Luck:

Interpretations of luck

Luck is interpreted and understood in many different ways.

Luck as lack of control

Luck refers to that which happens to a person beyond that person's control. This view incorporates phenomena that are chance happenings, a person's place of birth for example, but where there is no uncertainty involved, or where the uncertainty is irrelevant. Within this framework one can differentiate between three different types of luck:

  1. Constitutional luck, that is, luck with factors that cannot be changed. Place of birth and genetic constitution are typical examples.
  2. Circumstantial luck - with factors that are haphazardly brought on. Accidents and epidemics are typical examples.
  3. Ignorance luck, that is, luck with factors one does not know about. Examples can be identified only in hindsight.

Luck as a fallacy

Another view holds that "luck is probability taken personally." A rationalist approach to luck includes the application of the rules of probability, and an avoidance of unscientific beliefs. The rationalist feels the belief in luck is a result of poor reasoning or wishful thinking. To a rationalist, a believer in luck who asserts that something has influenced his or her luck commits the "post hoc ergo propter hoc" logical fallacy: that because two events are connected sequentially, they are connected causally as well. In general:

A happens (luck-attracting event or action) and then B happens;
Therefore, A influenced B.

In the rationalist perspective, probability is only affected by confirmed causal connections.

The gambler's fallacy and inverse gambler's fallacy both explain some reasoning problems in common beliefs in luck. They involve denying the unpredictability of random events: "I haven't rolled a seven all week, so I'll definitely roll one tonight".

Luck is merely an expression noting an extended period of noted outcomes, completely consistent with random walk probability theory. Wishing one "good luck" will not cause such an extended period, but it expresses positive feelings toward the one—not necessarily wholly undesirable.

It cannot be shown that luck actually exists, hence luck is nothing more than a word used by one in a self delusional assumption of understanding events of which one is informed or which one witnesses. As such, it is a word which superstitious people use to simultaneously presume to have insight into events and, paradoxically, to cease efforts to understand the causes and effects of those same events.

Luck as an essence

There is also a series of spiritual, or supernatural beliefs regarding fortune. These beliefs vary widely from one to another, but most agree that luck can be influenced through spiritual means by performing certain rituals or by avoiding certain circumstances.

One such activity is prayer, a religious practice in which this belief is particularly strong. Many cultures and religions worldwide place a strong emphasis on a person's ability to influence their fortune by ritualistic means, sometimes involving sacrifice, omens or spells. Others associate luck with a strong sense of superstition, that is, a belief that certain taboo or blessed actions will influence how fortune favors them for the future.

Luck can also be a belief in an organization of fortunate and unfortunate events. Luck is a form of superstition which is interpreted differently by different individuals. Famous Swiss psychiatrist, Carl Jung, who founded analytical psychology, coined the term "synchronicity", which he described as "a meaningful coincidence".

Christianity and Islam believe in the will of a supreme being rather than luck as the primary influence in future events. The degrees of this Divine Providence vary greatly from one person to another; however, most acknowledge providence as at least a partial, if not complete influence on luck. Christianity, in its early development, accommodated many traditional practices which at different times, accepted omens and practiced forms of ritual sacrifice in order to divine the will of their supreme being or to influence divine favoritism. The concept of "Divine Grace" as it is described by believers closely resembles what is referred to as "luck" by others.

Mesoamerican religions, such as the Aztecs, Mayans and Incas, had particularly strong beliefs regarding the relationship between rituals and luck. In these cultures, human sacrifice (both of willing volunteers and captured enemies) was seen as a way to please the gods and earn favor for the city offering the sacrifice. The Mayans also believed in blood offerings, where men or women wanting to earn favor with the gods, to bring about good luck, would cut themselves and bleed on the gods' altar.

Many traditional African practices, such as voodoo and hoodoo, have a strong belief in superstition. Some of these religions include a belief that third parties can influence an individual's luck. Shamans and witches are both respected and feared, based on their ability to cause good or bad fortune for those in villages near them.

Luck as a self-fulfilling prophecy

Some encourage the belief in luck as a false idea, but which may produce positive thinking, and alter one's responses for the better. Others, like Jean-Paul Sartre and Sigmund Freud, feel a belief in luck has more to do with a locus of control for events in one's life, and the subsequent escape from personal responsibility. According to this theory, one who ascribes their travails to "bad luck" will be found upon close examination to be living risky lifestyles. In personality psychology, people reliably differ from each other depending on four key aspects: beliefs in luck, rejection of luck, being lucky, and being unlucky.[12] People who believe in good luck are more optimistic, more satisfied with their lives, and have better moods.[12] If "good" and "bad" events occur at random to everyone, believers in good luck will experience a net gain in their fortunes, and vice versa for believers in bad luck. This is clearly likely to be self-reinforcing. Thus, a belief in good luck may actually be an adaptive meme.

Social aspects of luck

Luck is an important factor in many aspects of society.


A Game may depend on luck rather than skill or effort. For example, Chess does not involve any random factors such as throwing dice, while Dominoes has the "luck of the draw" when selecting tiles.


File:National Lottery play here!21 sign.jpg
A National Lottery "play here!" sign outside a newsagents on the Euston Road, London.

Many countries have a national lottery. Individual views of the chance of winning, and what it might mean to win, are largely expressed by statements about luck. For example, the winner was "just lucky" meaning they contributed no skill or effort.

Means of resolving issues

"Leaving it to chance" is a way of resolving issues. For example, flipping a coin at the start of a sporting event may determine who goes first.


Main article: Numerology

Most cultures consider some numbers to be lucky or unlucky. This is found to be particularly strong in Asian cultures, where the obtaining of "lucky" telephone numbers, automobile license plate numbers, and household addresses are actively sought, sometimes at great monetary expense. Numerology, as it relates to luck, is closer to an art than to a science, yet numerologists, astrologists or psychics may disagree. It is interrelated to astrology, and to some degree to parapsychology and spirituality and is based on converting virtually anything material into a pure number, using that number in an attempt to detect something meaningful about reality, and trying to predict or calculate the future based on lucky numbers. Numerology is folkloric by nature and started when humans first learned to count. Through human history it was, and still is, practiced by many cultures of the world from traditional fortune-telling to on-line psychic reading.

Luck in religion and mythology


Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, taught his followers not to believe in luck. The view which was taught by Gautama Buddha states that all things which happen must have a cause, either material or spiritual, and do not occur due to luck, chance or fate. The idea of moral causality, karma (Pali: kamma), is central in Buddhism. In the Sutta Nipata ,the Buddha is recorded as having said the following about luck:

Whereas some religious men, while living of food provided by the faithful make their living by such low arts, such wrong means of livelihood as palmistry, divining by signs, interpreting dreams... bringing good or bad luck... invoking the goodness of luck... picking the lucky site for a building, the monk Gautama refrains from such low arts, such wrong means of livelihood. D.I, 9-12 [13]

Nonetheless, belief in luck is overwhelmingly prevalent in many predominantly Buddhist Asian countries. In Thailand, for example, Buddhists may wear verses (takrut) or lucky amulets which have been blessed by monks for protection against physical and spiritual harm.[14]

Japanese mythology

As represented by the Seven Lucky Gods, namely Hotei, Jurōjin, Fukurokuju, Bishamonten, Benzaiten, Daikokuten and Ebisu


Lakshmi A Hindu Devi (English: Divinity) of Money & Fortune. It is said that by proper worship, with a meticulous prayer procedure (Sanskrit: Shri Lakshmi Sahasranam Pujan Vidhi) the blessings of this powerful deity may be obtained. Lakshmi Parayan (Prayer) is performed in most Hindu homes on the day of Diwali or the festival of lights.

Judaism and Christianity


There is no concept of Luck in Islam [3] other than actions pre-determined by God(Allah) and that God alone has power over all things (Divine Decree). It is stated in the Qur'an (Sura: Adh-Dhariyat ( The Wind that Scatter ) verse:22) that one’s sustenance is pre-determined in heaven when the Lord says: “And in the heaven is your provision and that which ye are promised.” However, one should supplicate towards God to better one's life rather than hold faith in un-Islamic acts such as using "lucky charms".

Roman Catholic Church

The Catholic Church excludes chance or luck as an explanation for creation, [15]



Many Wiccans believe in luck, and use spells, ritual and other forms of magic in an attempt to influence their own luck and the luck of others.


Sikhism founded by Guru Nanak Dev in India.

  1. No one can, by any way, get grapes by the seed of acacia.
  2. Luck is but lack of self confidence and fruit of idleness.

See also

Twenty good luck quotes]


  1. ^ "an unknown and unpredictable phenomenon that causes an event to result one way rather than another"
  2. ^ "the force that seems to operate for good or ill in a person's life, as in shaping circumstances, events, or opportunities"
  3. ^
  4. ^ The 3000 Most Commonly Used Words in the United States Luck is listed at 2361.
  5. ^
  6. ^ Elbow Room by Daniel Clement Dennett, Page 92. "We know it would be superstitious to believe that "there actually is such a thing as luck" - something a rabbits foot might bring - but we nevertheless think there is an unsuperstitious and unmisleading way of characterizing events and properties as merely lucky."
  7. ^ Luck: the brilliant randomness of everyday life Page 32. "Luck accordingly involves three things: (1) a beneficiary or maleficiary, (2) a development that is benign (positive) or malign (negative) from the stand point of the interests of the affected individual, and that, moreover, (3) is fortuitous (unexpected, chancy, unforeseeable.)"
  8. ^ CHANCE News 4.15 ...the definition in the Oxford English dictionary: "the fortuitous happening of an event favorable or unfavorable to the interest of a person"
  9. ^ Luck: the brilliant randomness of everyday life Page 28. "Luck is a matter of having something good or bad happen that lies outside the horizon of effective foreseeability."
  10. ^ Luck: the brilliant randomness of everyday life Page 32. "Luck thus always incorporates a normative element of good or bad: someone must be affected positively or negatively by an event before its realization can properly be called lucky."
  11. ^ Luck: the brilliant randomness of everyday life Page 32. ..."that as a far as the affected person is concerned, the outcome came about "by accident." "
  12. ^ a b Maltby, J., Day, L., Gill, P., Colley, A., Wood, A. M. (2008). Beliefs around luck: Confirming the empirical conceptualization of beliefs around luck and the development of the Darke and Freedman beliefs around luck scale Personality and Individual Differences, 45, 655-660.
  13. ^ [1]
  14. ^ [2]
  15. ^ God creates by wisdom and love #295 "We believe that God created the world according to his wisdom. It is not the product of any necessity whatever, nor of blind fate or chance."
  16. ^ RESPECT FOR PERSONS AND THEIR GOODS #2413 "Games of chance (card games, etc.) or wagers are not in themselves contrary to justice."