Triskaidekaphobia (from Greek tris=three, kai=and, deka=ten) is an irrational fear of the number 13; it is a superstition and related to a specific fear of Friday the 13th, called paraskevidekatriaphobia or friggatriskaidekaphobia.


Some Christian traditions have it that at the Last Supper, Judas, the disciple who betrayed Jesus, was the 13th to sit at the table Fact|date=October 2008, and that for this reason 13 is considered to carry a curse of sorts. Fact|date=October 2008 However, the number 13 is not uniformly bad in the Judeo-Christian tradition. For example, the 13 attributes of God (also called the thirteen attributes of mercy) are enumerated in the Torah (Exodus 34: 6-7). [ [ 13 attributes of mercy] Retrieved 13 July, 2007.] Some modern Christian churches also use 13 attributes of God in sermons. [ [ Faith Presbyterian Church] Retrieved 13 July, 2007.]

Triskaidekaphobia may have also affected the Vikings—it is believed that Loki in the Norse pantheon was the 13th godFact|date=August 2008. More specifically, Loki was believed to have engineered the murder of Baldr, and was the 13th guest to arrive at the funeralFact|date=August 2008. This is perhaps related to the superstition that if thirteen people gather, one of them will die in the following year. This was later Christianized in some traditions into saying that Satan was the 13th angelFact|date=August 2008. Another Norse tradition involves the myth of Norna-Gest: when the uninvited norns showed up at his birthday celebration—thus increasing the number of guests from ten to thirteen—Fact|date=August 2008the norns cursed the infant by magically binding his lifespan to that of a mystic candle they presented to him.

The Mesopotamian Code of Hammurabi (ca. 1760 BC) omits 13 in its numbered list. [ [ Code of Hammurabi] Retrieved 13 July, 2007.] This seems to indicate a superstition existed long before the Christian era. Ancient Persians believed the twelve constellations in the Zodiac controlled the months of the year, and each ruled the earth for a thousand years at the end of which the sky and earth collapsed in chaos. Therefore, the thirteenth is identified with chaos and the reason Persian leave their houses to avoid bad luck on the thirteenth day of the Persian Calendar (a tradition called Sizdah Bedar).

In 1881, an influential group of New Yorkers led by U.S. Civil War veteran Captain William Fowler came together to put an end to this and other superstitions. They formed a dinner club, which they called the Thirteen Club. At the first meeting, on Friday 13 January 1881 at 8:13 p.m., 13 people sat down to dine in room 13 of the venue. The guests walked under a ladder to enter the room and were seated among piles of spilled salt. All of the guests survived. Thirteen Clubs sprang up all over North America for the next 40 years. Their activities were regularly reported in leading newspapers, and their numbers included five future U.S. presidents, from Chester A. Arthur to Theodore Roosevelt. Thirteen Clubs had various imitators, but they all gradually faded from interest as people became less superstitious. [Nick Leys, "If you bought this, you've already had bad luck", review of Nathaniel Lachenmayer's "Thirteen: The World's Most Popular Superstition", Weekend Australian, 8-9 January 2005]



*In the US and Canada, many tall buildings do not have a floor numbered 13 (see picture at right for an example).
**In Buffalo, New York, the downtown city hall has no 13th floor. The number buttons in the elevators have 12, then "P", then 14. The P floor is like the cellar, with cement walls and floors, and is a storage unit.
**Many apartments and other buildings use M as the thirteenth floor (12, M, 14) because it is the thirteenth letter in the English alphabet.
**Some buildings replace the thirteenth floor with 12A (12, 12A, 14). The A distinguishes the floor one level up from the twelfth.

*In Kerala (India), The Kerala High Court building has not assigned Number 13 to any of its courtrooms.

*In the Philippines, The Makati City Hall had number 33 as the 13th floor instead of 13


*In San Francisco, California Funston Avenue appears where 13th Avenue would have been.

*In Longview, Washington Commerce Avenue appears where 13th Avenue should be.

Aeronautics and space

*Some airport terminals do not have gates numbered 13. [ [ JFK airport Terminal 3 map] Retrieved 10 September, 2008]

*On some passenger aircraft, such as those of Continental Airlines, Air NewZealand, Alitalia, and Meridiana, there is no seating row numbered 13 (see picture at left for an example).

*So far, there has been no F-13 Aircraft, with the F-14 succeeding the F-12.

*The aircraft involved with United Airlines Flight 811 was registered N4713U.

imilar phobias

*Tetraphobia, fear of the number 4 — (phonetically similar to 'death') in Korea, China, and Japan, as well as in many East-Asian and some Southeast-Asian countries, it's not uncommon for buildings (including offices, apartments, hotels) to lack floors with the number 4 and Finnish mobile phone manufacturer Nokia's 1xxx-9xxx series of mobile phones does not include any model numbers beginning with a 4. In Taiwan, tetraphobia is so common that there are no 4's or x4's for addresses, car number plates and almost everything numerically-related.
*17 is Italy's unlucky number, because of in Roman digits 17 is written XVII, that could be rearranged to "VIXI", which in Latin means "I lived".
*Paraskavedekatriaphobia is the fear of Friday the 13th, which is considered to be a day of bad luck in a number of western cultures. In Romania, Greece and Spanish cultures, Tuesday the 13th is considered unlucky.


* Lachenmeyer, Nathaniel (2004). "13: The Story of the World's Most Popular Superstition." New York: ISBN 1-56858-306-0.
*Thea, Christopher: "What A Dollar Has To Tell You -13 Gentle Reminders- / Lo Que Un Dólar Tiene Para Decirte -13 Sutiles Sugerencias-"Outskirts Press (2004) ISBN 9781932672497
*O'Neil, Daniel (2008). "Fear of 13: Tales over dinner."

External links

* [ 'Unlucky' airline logo grounded] BBC, 21 February 2007
* [ Triskaidekaphobia on MathWorld]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • triskaidekaphobia — fear of the number 13, 1911, from Gk. treiskaideka thirteen + phobia fear (see PHOBIA (Cf. phobia)) …   Etymology dictionary

  • triskaidekaphobia — [tris΄kī dek΄ə fō′bē ə] n. [ModL < Gr triskaideka, thirteen (< treis,THREE + kai, and + deka,TEN) + phobia, PHOBIA] fear of the number 13 …   English World dictionary

  • Triskaidekaphobia — Fear of the number 13. Written reference to this fear dates to the late 1800s. The term triskaidekaphobia appeared in the early 1900s. It is not easy to pronounce unless one speaks Greek. From treiskaideka, the Greek word for thirteen + phobia,… …   Medical dictionary

  • triskaidekaphobia — noun Etymology: New Latin, from Greek treiskaideka thirteen (from treis three + kai and + deka ten) + New Latin phobia more at three, ten Date: circa 1911 fear of the number 13 …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • triskaidekaphobia — triskaidekaphobic, adj. /tris kuy dek euh foh bee euh, tris keuh /, n. fear or a phobia concerning the number 13. [1910 15; < Gk triskaídeka thirteen + PHOBIA] * * * …   Universalium

  • triskaidekaphobia — noun /ˌtrɪskaɪdɛkəˈfəʊbiə/ Fear, hate, or dislike of the number thirteen (13) …   Wiktionary

  • triskaidekaphobia — fear of the number thirteen Phobias …   Phrontistery dictionary

  • triskaidekaphobia — n. abnormal fear of the number 13; state of being afraid of the number 13 (Psychiatry) …   English contemporary dictionary

  • triskaidekaphobia —    (triss kye deh kah FOH bee ah) [Greek] Fear of the number thirteen.    The fact that Schoenberg was born on September 13, 1874, and was fervently triskaidekaphobic must have produced a sense of foreboding from childhood on. The New Criterion,… …   Dictionary of foreign words and phrases

  • triskaidekaphobia — [ˌtrɪskʌɪdɛkə fəʊbɪə] noun extreme superstition regarding the number thirteen. Origin early 20th cent.: from Gk treiskaideka thirteen + phobia …   English new terms dictionary

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