The Numerous Theories That Attempt to Explain the Origin of ‘Knock on Wood’

Simon Whistler, host of the wonderfully informative video series “Today I Found Out” talks about the numerous theories that attempt to explain how the term knock/touch wood became synonymous with good luck for those who knock.

You’ve probably said this phrase and performed this action countless times, without the slightest clue as to the meaning behind it. So why do we feel compelled to “knock on wood” as an insurance policy against bad luck? Unfortunately, nobody knows for sure and while you’ll often read detailed accounts of how the saying comes from centuries old practices by various peoples (depending on the origin theory you’re reading), oddly enough the expression itself only popped up a little over a hundred years ago, first documented in 1905, with the British equivalent “touch wood,” popping up in 1899.