A Brief History of Unlucky Numbers in China

Unearth the tale of misfortune that shrouds certain numbers in China and why they are viewed as ill-fated! Delve into the mysterious origins of these notorious digits and the superstitions that have been associated with them for centuries. Uncover the hidden meanings behind these cursed figures, and why they are believed to bring bad luck to those who encounter them. Learn why some Chinese people go to great lengths to avoid these unlucky numbers, and how they can be used as a form of protection against misfortune. Explore this fascinating topic and discover the history of unlucky numbers in China!

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For centuries, certain figures have been deemed ill-omened in Chinese tradition. Most notoriously, the 4 and 8 are said to bring bad luck and calamity to those who come across them. The source of this superstition can be tracked back to ancient Chinese beliefs on numerology and symbolism. It is thought that the 4 is an unlucky number due to its phonetic similarity with “death” in Chinese; similarly, 8 is believed to be a harbinger of misfortune as it sounds like the word for “prosperity”.

To ward off potential disaster, many Chinese people will go out of their way to avoid these numbers in their everyday lives. This means steering clear from phone numbers or addresses with either 4 or 8, as well as abstaining from giving presents related to these digits such as clocks or watches with a 4 or 8 on them. Some may even reject money bearing either of these digits if it is offered to them.

These superstitions about unlucky numbers remain prevalent in modern-day China. However, both 4 and 8 also have some positive associations; when combined with other lucky digits such as 6 or 9 they can be used as symbols of protection against bad luck. By understanding the history behind these infamous figures we are able to gain insight into Chinese culture and its long-standing beliefs regarding fortune and fate.



Unfortunate numerals have been a staple in Chinese culture since antiquity. The number 4 is deemed inauspicious due to its phonetic similarity to the word for “death”, while 8 has a negative connotation as its pronunciation echoes that of “wealth” or “fortune”. Moreover, 7, 14, and 24 are likewise viewed as unlucky numbers with their unfavorable significations in Chinese culture.

– The Historical Origins of Unlucky Numbers in China

For centuries, China has been home to superstitions regarding certain numbers. It is believed that the number four was seen as an ill-fated figure because of its phonetic similarity to the Chinese word for death. Additionally, eight was associated with bad luck and misfortune, due to its sound being similar to the Chinese term for prosperity – so when someone uttered “eight”, it was thought they were inadvertently wishing for misfortune rather than good fortune. Moreover, in ancient times, nine was deemed unlucky as it had a connection to the emperor and his court.

These beliefs still linger today among some individuals who think that particular numbers bring either good luck or bad luck. For instance, many Chinese people will avoid giving presents in sets of four or eight since these are viewed as symbols of bad luck. Similarly, if a phone number or address contains any of these figures, some may decide not to use them because they are associated with ill fortune.

In conclusion, while these superstitions remain alive and well among some in China nowadays, their roots can be traced back centuries ago when they first started taking form.

– Traditional Superstitions Surrounding Unlucky Numbers in China

In China, superstitions about numbers have been a part of the culture for many years. The number 4 is seen as particularly unfortunate, as its pronunciation is similar to that of the word for death. 8 has a positive connotation, sounding like the word for wealth or fortune, and 9 stands for longevity. Meanwhile, 7 has both good and bad associations; it can be read as “sickness” when pronounced differently but also symbolizes the seven stars of the Big Dipper constellation.

The same goes for certain combinations of numbers. For example, 14 (which reads as “surely die”) and 24 (which reads as “easy death”) are widely believed to bring bad luck while 888 (which reads as “triple prosperity”) is thought to be lucky. People may try to avoid buying items with 168 (which reads as “road to wealth”).

These superstitions remain popular in Chinese culture today, even if some people think they are silly.

– Cultural Significance of Unlucky Numbers in Chinese History

Mystique and superstition have long been a part of Chinese culture, and the number 13 is no exception. Thought to bring chaos and destruction, it has been avoided for centuries. This sentiment still stands today; many believe that having thirteen guests at a dinner party will bring bad luck to everyone involved, and items with thirteen parts are considered unlucky.

The number 4 also holds significance, due to its phonetic similarity to the word for “death.” As a result, many buildings do not have fourth floors and some people avoid giving gifts that have four pieces or are priced at $4.

These numbers remain significant in Chinese culture, influencing how people view their lives and decisions. The mystery of these numbers goes back centuries and is still felt today.

– Examining the Legacy of Unlucky Numbers in Modern Chinese Society

For centuries, a superstition has been passed down through generations in Chinese society, one that associates certain numbers with bad luck. To this day, the origins of this belief remain mysterious yet its presence is still felt in many facets of life. Take for instance the number four; its pronunciation is similar to the word for death in Mandarin and thus it is deemed as an unlucky figure. On the other hand, eight is thought to bring good fortune due to its likeness to the word for “prosperity”.

This superstition can be seen in everyday life in China. Buildings often avoid having fourth or eighth floors and phone numbers are carefully chosen to avoid these numbers as much as possible. Even transportation isn’t exempt from this phenomenon, with some bus routes being avoided if they contain unlucky numbers on their route number.

This belief system has even infiltrated popular culture today. Movies and television shows will often shy away from using certain numbers when referring to time or dates so as not to invoke any negative connotations associated with them. Likewise, some video games have incorporated this concept into their design by avoiding using certain combinations of digits within their game codes or levels.

These beliefs remain deeply entrenched within Chinese culture and show no signs of fading away anytime soon. Examining the history behind these superstitions gives us a better understanding of how influential they are within Chinese society and how they continue to shape everyday life even now.

– Exploring the Evolution of Unlucky Number Beliefs Over Time in China

Throughout the ages, the Chinese have held a variety of beliefs and superstitions surrounding unlucky numbers. The most notorious of these is 4, which has been seen as a harbinger of death due to its similarity in pronunciation to the Mandarin word for death. Other numbers that are associated with bad luck include 7, 8, and 13 – all of which are linked to ancient mythology and folklore. Additionally, 5 was once viewed as an unlucky number because it represented chaos and disorder.

In Buddhism, 8 is thought to bring misfortune due to its association with suffering. Similarly, 7 is sometimes perceived as a symbol of the seven deadly sins within Christianity. In more recent years, 14 has become an ill-fated number in China due to its similarity in pronunciation to “will die”. 17 also carries negative connotations as it can be interpreted as two other unlucky numbers combined (1+7=8).

Despite changes in perception over time, some unlucky numbers remain constant in China – 4 continues to be seen as a sign of bad luck while others such as 7 and 8 still maintain their negative connotations today.


In Chinese culture, there is an air of trepidation that surrounds the number 4. Its resemblance to the word for death has led to it being considered one of the most unlucky numbers. Additionally, 7 and 8 carry a heavy burden of bad luck and misfortune in Chinese history, contributing to their status as ill-fated digits.


Some questions with answers

Q1: What are the unlucky numbers in China?

A1: The most commonly cited unlucky numbers in Chinese culture are 4, 7 and 8.

Q2: Why are these numbers considered unlucky?

A2: In Chinese culture, the number 4 is associated with death because it sounds similar to the word for “death” in Chinese. The number 7 is considered unlucky because it has a similar pronunciation to the words for “to deceive” or “to cheat”. The number 8 is thought to be bad luck because it has a similar pronunciation to the words for “prosperity” and “wealth.”

Q3: How long has this been part of Chinese culture?

A3: This superstition dates back centuries, likely to ancient times when people believed that their lives were heavily influenced by fate and luck.

Q4: Does this belief still exist today?

A4: Yes, this belief still exists today and is widely observed in many aspects of life such as weddings, home decoration, and business.

Q5: Is there any historical evidence of this belief?

A5: Yes, there is historical evidence of this belief. For example, some ancient texts from China describe how certain numbers could bring good or bad luck depending on their usage.

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