Touch Wood

Touch Wood

“What Does “Touch Wood” Mean? Is It a Superstition or a Modern Phrase?

The phrase “touch wood” is a curious and intriguing expression that has found its way into modern English conversation. First encountered by the author in 2007 in Mumbai, the origins and reasons behind its use have sparked curiosity. In this article, we’ll delve into this phrase’s history and various interpretations to shed light on its significance in today’s world.

Superstition Roots:

One prevalent theory points to its association with pagan beliefs, where trees were believed to be the dwelling places of fairies and other mythical creatures. In this context, knocking or touching wood served a dual purpose. The first tap was seen as a form of respect or acknowledgment to the tree’s spirit or fairy. The second tap expressed gratitude, demonstrating reverence for the natural world.

Warding Off Evil:

Another theory suggests that the act of knocking on wood was a means to distract malevolent spirits inhabiting trees. These spirits were thought to possess the power to thwart one’s aspirations and hopes for the future. By knocking on wood, individuals sought to prevent these spirits from overhearing their desires, thus increasing the chances of their dreams coming true.

A Comforting Ritual:

“Touching wood” may appear trivial, but it is a small, comforting ritual in a world of uncertainties and anxieties. For some, it’s a way to ward off potential misfortune. Belief in this superstition can vary from person to person, with some holding it steadfastly while others dismiss it as irrational.


Essentially, the origins of “touch wood” are shrouded in mystery, likely stemming from a blend of these theories. Whether or not it holds any real power remains open to interpretation. For those who believe, it is a reassuring gesture in a world where the unknown can be unsettling. So, the next time you hear someone say “touch wood,” you’ll better understand the historical and superstitious context behind this intriguing phrase.