Posted by: Jack Henry | January 12, 2023

Editor’s Corner: Friday the 13th

Good morning! Tomorrow is Friday the 13th, which is considered by some to be an unlucky day. If you’re like me, you may be wondering why.

According to an article on the History™ website, aptly called Friday the 13th, while the number 13 is considered unlucky, the number 12 is associated with completeness: “…there are 12 days of Christmas, 12 months and zodiac signs, 12 labors of Hercules, 12 gods of Olympus, and 12 tribes of Israel, just to name a few examples…its successor 13 has a long history as a sign of bad luck.” The article points out that this superstition has been around for centuries and has its roots in the Western world and in Christianity. First mentioned is the fact that there were 13 guests at Christ’s Last Supper. In addition, the fall of the Knights Templar (a monastic military order devoted to protecting pilgrims traveling to the Holy Land following the Christian capture of Jerusalem during the First Crusade) began on Friday, October 13, 1307.

Along with 13 being the unluckiest number, some believe that Friday may be the unluckiest day of the week, and this belief is also rooted in Christianity, as Jesus was crucified on a Friday, and Friday is believed to be the day that Adam and Eve ate the apple from the Tree of Knowledge.

The article points out that there have been attempts to remove the stigma of Friday the 13th. A New Yorker named Captain William Fowler (1827–1897) founded an exclusive society called the Thirteen Club whose members dined on the 13th day of the month in room 13 of the Knickerbocker Cottage and partook of a 13-course meal. Members of this club walked under a ladder beneath a banner reading “Morituri te Salutamus,” which is Latin for “Those of us who are about to die salute you.” Four former presidents (Chester A. Arthur, Grover Cleveland, Benjamin Harrison, and Theodore Roosevelt) were all members at one time or another. And I might point out that they’re all dead now, so…

Anyway, since tomorrow is the 13th, I thought you might be interested in 13 synonyms for unlucky. These come to you from You can watch the slide show by clicking the link (which also provides examples and additional information), or you can read on at your own risk.

  1. hapless: unlucky; luckless; unfortunate
  2. inauspicious: boding ill; ill-omened; unfavorable
  3. star-crossed: ill-fated; related to the idea that one’s fate is foretold by the position of the stars
  4. sinister: threatening or portending evil
  5. ominous: portending evil or harm; foreboding; threatening; comes from the word omen meaning a sign or symbol of the future
  6. dire: causing or involving great fear or suffering; dreadful; terrible
  7. donsie: (Scottish) unfortunate; ill-fated; unlucky
  8. withershins: (Scottish) in a direction contrary to the natural one, especially contrary to the apparent course of the sun; counterclockwise in the sense of being unlucky or causing disaster
  9. unsonsy (Scottish) bringing or boding ill luck
  10. evil eye: expression meaning “a look thought capable of inflicting injury or bad luck on the person at whom it is directed”
  11. schlimazel: someone who has experienced more than their fair share of bad luck
  12. infelicity: misfortune; bad luck
  13. fey: (British English) doomed, fated to die

I have a premonition that we are all going to have a lucky day tomorrow followed by a wonderful weekend. It will be the first day of my three-week vacation—it’s a very lucky day for me!

Donna Bradley Burcher |Technical Editor, Advisory | jack henry™

8985 Balboa Ave. | San Diego, CA 92123

Pronouns she/her/hers

Symitar Documentation Services

About Editor’s Corner

Editor’s Corner keeps your communication skills sharp by providing information on grammar, punctuation, JHA style, and all things English. As editors, we spend our days reading, researching, and revising other people’s writing. We love to spend a few extra minutes to share what we learn with you and keep it fun while we’re doing it.

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