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Q.

Where does the phrase 'touch wood' come from?

Asked by nargis bhambi, 23 Aug '08 09:33 pm
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Answers (7)

 
1.

It is commonly thought that knocking on wood has been a superstitious action to ward off evil throughout history involving both Pagan and Christian belief systems.[1] Some believe it has to do with knocking on the wooden cross.[2] Another explanation for this practice is the pagan belief that spirits (dryads) lived in trees.[3]By knocking on the wood of a tree while making some sort of a bold statement, the speaker could prevent the spirit from hearing him and stop the spirit from interfering[ citation needed ] or out of respect for the wood spirit, touching a tree indicated seeking protection from the particular spirit.[4]

However historian Steve Roud[5] finds no evidence in the British Isles for the earlier theories, suggesting that the superstitions have not been traced beyond children's games of tag of the early nineteenth century. According to Roud, the earliest documented references to "touching wood" are from 1805 and 1828 and concern chasing games like "Ti ...more
Answered by Milind Madhukar Kulkarni, 23 Aug '08 09:36 pm

 
  
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2.

The British version - touch wood, had an earlier Latin version used when touching wood - absit omen!, meaning 'far be that omen from us'. This dates from at least the early 17th century, when it is quoted by Heywood. It isn't clear when touch wood began to be used. It must have been well-known by 1849, when The Boy's Own Book published the rules of a children's game that derived from the phrase:

"This game is sometimes called 'Touch-iron' or 'Touch-wood'; in these cases the players are safe only while they touch iron or wood, as may be previously agreed. They are liable to be touched only when running from one piece of wood or iron to another."

Knock on wood - the American version, is known from the early 20th century. For example, The Indianapolis Star, September 1908:

"He is a promising looking youngster, and once we get on velvet (knock on wood!) the New York fans will get a chance to see him in action. When that time comes (knock on wood again!) ...more
Answered by Jack Johnson, 23 Aug '08 10:19 pm

 
  
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3.

Touch Wood is the British version of Knock on Wood. The British version had an earlier Latin version used when touching wood - absit omen, meaning 'far be that omen from us'. This dates from at least the early 17th century. The saying was well known by 1849, when The Boy's Own Book published the rules of a children's game that derived from the phrase:
"This game is sometimes called 'Touch-iron' or 'Touch-wood'; in these cases the players are safe only while they touch iron or wood, as may be previously agreed. They are liable to be touched only when running from one piece of wood or iron to another.
Answered by Janis, 23 Aug '08 09:49 pm

 
  
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4.

It is commonly thought that knocking on wood has been a superstitious action to ward off evil throughout history involving both Pagan and Christian belief systems Some believe it has to do with knocking on the wooden cross. Another explanation for this practice is the pagan belief that spirits (dryads) lived in trees. By knocking on the wood of a tree while making some sort of a bold statement, the speaker could prevent the spirit from hearing him and stop the spirit from interfering[ citation needed ] or out of respect for the wood spirit, touching a tree indicated seeking protection from the particular spirit.

According to Greek Orthodox Patriarch, Prof Anastasios Zavales,[6] the custom arose from the times of Emperor Constantine when the faithful first touched the cross in public processions, for blessing and healing. The "wood of life" was touched three times in connection with the Trinity. After the central cross was placed in Constantinople, he says, the practice w ...more
Answered by Mister Singh, 23 Aug '08 09:39 pm

 
  
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5.

Derives from the pagan belief that malevolent spirits inhabited wood and if touched then they will cause no harm.
Answered by joyoti sen, 23 Aug '08 09:36 pm

 
  
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6.

It derives from the pagan belief that malevolent spirits inhabited wood, and that if you expressed a hope for the future you should touch, or knock on, wood to prevent the spirits from hearing and presumably preventing your hopes from coming true.
Answered by rocky robust, 23 Aug '08 09:36 pm

 
  
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7.

Fact is touching wood. u get truth
Answered by sai technologies, 23 Aug '08 09:34 pm

 
  
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