“Knock on Wood” American English Expression

Have you heard of the English expression “Knock on wood”?

The expression “Knock on wood” is a superstitious phrase used to ward off bad luck or prevent a jinx.

Where did the expression “knock on wood” come from?

The exact origins of the phrase are not entirely clear, but it is believed to have ancient roots that date back to various cultures and their beliefs in the supernatural.

Pagan roots of “knock on wood”

One popular theory suggests that the phrase may have originated from pagan traditions where people believed that spirits resided in trees. To appease or seek protection from these spirits, people would tap or knock on trees to request their favor or express gratitude. Over time, this practice evolved into the saying “Knock on wood,” where the action of knocking on wood is done to invoke the protective power of the spirits within the trees.

The Christian Theory: Power of the Cross of Jesus

Another theory connects the phrase to Christianity and the belief in the Holy Cross. Some sources suggest that people would touch or knock on wood as a gesture of seeking protection from evil or bad luck by invoking the power of the cross. In this context, wood symbolizes the material of the cross on which Jesus Christ was crucified.

Join my English Success Community

I send weekly emails with “bite-sized” (small) English Lessons + Get a 10% Coupon!

Usage of “Knock on Wood” around the world

The phrase also has roots in various cultures and superstitions around the world. For example, in some cultures, people might knock on wood to prevent the Devil from hearing their optimistic statements, thereby avoiding tempting fate.

Current Usage of “Knock on Wood”

Regardless of its exact origin, “Knock on wood” has become a common idiom in the English language, and people use it today without necessarily being aware of its historical or cultural background. It’s often said after making a positive statement to avoid tempting fate or to express a desire for continued good luck.

SALE

(5 customer reviews)
Learn English with Camille
What Our Clients Say
4.96 rating (89 reviews)

INVEST IN YOUR ENGLISH

Previous slide
Next slide
LOVE IT? Share it!
Picture of Camille Hanson

Camille Hanson

Hi friends! I'm Camille. I create engaging American English content for ESL people around the world. When I am not creating videos, books or blogs, you will probably find me in a cafe somewhere around the world, studying my next target language or at home cooking up food for my family of five. Stick around, read some posts and learn some English with me :) Tchau, ciao! ~Camille
POST CATEGORIES & TAGS
Disclaimer: Some links be affiliate links where I earn a percentage of anything purchased.
KEEP LEARNING. NEVER GIVE UP.
Sign up for my English Success E-mails + 10% coupon!
7 days to language success

FREE E-BOOK + 10% OFF COUPON

FREE! 7 days to Language Success E-book

SIGN UP AND GET 10% OFF COUPON AND AN EXCLUSIVE E-BOOK ONLY FOR EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS!