Friday, February 13, 2009

The Greeks had a word for it.

The fear of Friday the 13th is called paraskavedekatriaphobia, a word derived from the concatenation of the Greek words Paraskeví (Παρασκευή) (meaning Friday), and dekatreís (δεκατρείς) (meaning thirteen), attached to phobía (φοβία) (meaning fear). This is a specialized form of triskaidekaphobia, a simple phobia (fear) of the number thirteen, and is also known as friggatriskaidekaphobia. The term triskaidekaphobia was derived in 1911 and first appeared in a mainstream source in 1953.

So says Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia.

So the Greeks didn’t have a word for it. They had two words for it, paraskavedekatriaphobia and friggatriskaidekaphobia.

But wait. That can’t be right. One of those words, I think, is not legitimate Greek.

Do you know which word is not really Greek, and why? Hint: It has nothing to do with the fact that the term triskadekaphobia was not derived until 1911. You’ll need to think again, a little harder.


  1. I have a fear of Greek words as long as the ones in this post

    An Arkies Musings

  2. Friggatriskeadekaphobia is not really Greek. Frigga would come from the Anglo Saxon or Germanic word that Friday is named for--some Norse goddess, I think.

  3. Richie, LOL!

    Ruth, I should have known you would know. You are correct. The word Frigga, the Norse goddess for whom Friday is named, is not a part of the Greek language.

    Thursday is named for Thor, and Wednesday is named for Woden (or Oden), and Tuesday is named for Tye, Norse deities all. I wonder why. And none of those names (or Norway either, for that matter) has anything to do with Greece.

    I was hoping to hear some far-out answers before the correct one was posted!

  4. Before reading Ruth's comment, I figured "frigga" was not sounded Scandinavian to me.

    Right before I read your post, I had read an article in today's newspaper about that word "paraskavedekatriaphobia". I immediately wished I would have blogged about it.....and am glad to see you did.

  5. Hi, Jeannelle, my readers are all too smart for my little quizzes! I checked on a Greek language site, and dekatria is definitely the Greek word for thirteen. Triskadeka doesn't seem to mean anything. Tria is three and deka means ten, so dekatria is literally ten and three, but I don't know where they came up with triskadeka. It isn't "three tens" because triska isn't the word for three, and it doesn't mean thirty (three tens) because trianta is the Greek word for thirty.

    Isn't my blog educational? :)

  6. So sorry, Bob. I usually try to be more guarded about spoiling the answers.