Monday, April 6, 2009

The Word on Monday

Today's word is Triskaidekaphobia, which I am sure you are aware, is the fear of the number 13.

Note that it does not say the irrational fear of the number 13. It does however refer to this fear as a superstition and notes it's relationship to the fear of Friday the 13th. (the day, not the movie)

I was once again reminded of this while working on next weeks 58th Wordzzle. The sum of eight and five making 13, I thought it would be cute to remind the reader to be wary if they were so inclined. This of course dictated that I actually look up how to spell the word and look into it's origin and meaning in more detail. I'm sorry, but that's the way I'm built.

Turns out that we blame the fear of 13 on Hammurabi because some later translation omitted the 13th article. Ironically the original codes were not numbered at all and other translations include a 13th article: so..... so much for that load of crap.

Still, Christian lore has it that the 13th person to sit at the table with Jesus during the last supper was Judas and therefore 13 is an extremely unlucky number.

Vikings have also been connected with our fear of 13. Something to do with their God Loki, the murder of Baldr and the thirteenth person to arrive at his funeral.

There are other cultural aversions to the odious number as well.

The most interesting and obvious in our culture is the absence of the 13th floor in most tall buildings. It seems architects are the most superstitious of the educated class. That being said; How many people do you know that would want to work on the 13th floor?

Then finally a group of folks came together to put a stop to this superstition, states wikipedia

"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 cabaret 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."

Maybe we are less superstitious now, I'm not sure, but today's word got me to thinking about phobias and their origins.

What phobias and their attendant words are likely to come from our current financial fiasco?

Here are some I thought of:

Bankerripmeoffandstealmyhomeaphobia... You can figure out the cause of this

Bailoutabankruptiaphobia .. the rational fear of rewarding rich risk takers with more money

Financiafracascamaphobia ... fear of getting the short end of the stick no matter what

Recessiaunemploymentahomelessaphobia ... I'm hoping we can seriously reduce the number of folks with this one.

Any ideas for words?


This just in: Dr. John added a word concerning the movie Friday the 13th. .....
Moviesthatripyourwalletaphobia - I guess that's the fear of paying too much to much to see a scary movie or some such thing


Nessa said...

13 is my favorite number and I love Friday the 13th. I always have good luck on that day.

Richard said...

Nessa: glad to hear it. So you would work on the 13th floor?

Anonymous said...

I have no problem with the number 13 either. And sure I'd work on floor 13 :)

Dr.John said...

I'm still afraid of Friday the 13th , the movie.
I suppose I have

Richard said...

Thom: OK, that's two

Dr. John: I don't think I've ever seen the entire movie. My wife and I are not into gore. But I'll take your word on how scary it it.

I liked your word very much.