touch wood, knock on wood


Senior Member
Hello, I just wonder if your native language uses that saying and how it is translated into English. It is used when you have just mentioned some way in which you have been lucky in the past, to avoid bringing bad luck. Thanks.

Hungarian. Hogy lekopogjam. (to knock it)
Czech. Musím to zaklepat. (I have to knock it)
  • German:

    Auf Holz klopfen.

    (Literally the same as "knock on wood".)
    But it is used rather when reporting something from the past where you were lucky to confirm (with a knock on wood) that indeed this was great luck, with no real thought of avoiding bad luck in the future with it.

    But if two people say the exact same words simultanuously it is common to knock on wood and say "The luck is mine!" (= "Mir gehört das Glück!") - the one who is fastest "gets" the luck. This however isn't done any more out of belief that they really catch luck this way - it's more meant ironic. (Well, there might actually be some people around who are superstituous enough to really believe this.)
    I'm glad, here is a German message, so I can ask you how about
    Toi, toi, toi!
    I just foud it in a dictionary but not sure when to use it. Thanks a lot.
    Interesting Mahaodeh, that even Arabic uses this expression, as I thought the origin of the term involved the wood of the cross on which Jesus Christ died. Whilst Jesus was/is indeed A prophet to Muslims, he is not THE Prophet (pbuh). Just curious therefore to know if this image of 'touching wood for good luck' is still extant amongst Islamic culture generally...
    There is the same expression in Portuguese, bate/bata na madeira, "knock on wood". This is used to ward off bad luck, especially when talking something in the future that you don't want to go wrong.
    We do not have an exact translation for knock on wood but in our hometown we use buyag then we would knock any form of wood in the area. This is pwera usug in tagalog.
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    For Encolpius:
    Toi,Toi,Toi! means to spit three times for good luck;very used in the theatre, where because of superstition, actors f.i.don't were purple costumes, or it is forbidden to open an umbrella on the stage.
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    It's probably pre-christian. All those Celts in the oak-groves in search of mistletoe...
    In French we say: 'Touchons du bois'. Which means: 'Let's touch wood'.
    In French, I hear more "Je touche du bois" ("I'm touching wood") than "Touchons du bois".
    We can also add:
    "Je touche du bois (& you usually knock on a table or something supposedly made out of wood) et de la peau de singe (literally = "monkey's skin" and you touch your head, or arm,... ;))
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    In English, "touch wood" and American, "knock on wood" the speaker often taps his head, for want of anything more wooden.
    In Greek:
    «κτυπάω/κτυπώ ξύλο» [kti'pa.o 'ksilo] (uncontracted verb)/ [kti'po 'ksilo] (contracted verb)
    «χτυπάω/χτυπώ ξύλο» [xti'pa.o 'ksilo] (uncontracted verb)/ [xti'po 'ksilo] (contracted verb)
    Both can be used but the «χτυπάω/χτυπώ» version of the verb, prevails in the vernacular.
    Lit. "to knock (on) wood".
    the word "hampas" is not just touching but it is as strong as hitting an object with force.But the literal translation is let the bad luck be on wood and not on you.
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    In Spanish we say tocar madera.

    Since tocar is an infinitive it must be conjugated conveniently. For example: toco, tocaré, toquemos, toca, among most commonly heard.
    Hello :)

    Though I can see this thread is a bit of an 'oldie', I'd like to contribute: In Catalan, we say 'tocar ferro' which means: 'to touch iron'. Same as in Italian.