What It Means
: fear of the number 13
triskaidekaphobia in Context
"We've gathered a list of 13 local theater productions to help you get into that eerie Halloween feeling. Just don't let triskaidekaphobia—fear of the number 13—stop you from seeing one of these theater productions opening across the state this month." — Whitney Butters Wilde, The Deseret News, 1 Oct. 2018
"If you've got triskaidekaphobia, this event is not for you.... On Friday, April 13, some fans of the horror movie 'Friday the 13th' will get a chance to stay overnight at the New Jersey camp where the original film in the slasher series was shot." — Amy Lieu, The New York Post, 21 Feb. 2018
Did You Know?
It's impossible to say just how or when the number thirteen got its bad reputation. There are a number of theories, of course. Some say it comes from the Last Supper because Jesus was betrayed afterwards by one among the thirteen present. Others trace the source of the superstition back to ancient Hindu beliefs or Norse mythology. But if written references are any indication, the phenomenon isn't all that old (at least, not among English speakers). Known mention of fear of thirteen in print dates back only to the late 1800s. By circa 1911, however, it was prevalent enough to merit a name, which was formed by attaching the Greek word for "thirteen"—treiskaideka (dropping that first "e")—to phobia ("fear of").
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