Why Chinese People don't Like the Number 4?

Monday, January 22, 2024

In Chinese culture, numbers play a significant role and are often associated with different meanings. While some numbers are considered auspicious, there are certain numbers believed to bring bad luck. One such number that holds a notorious reputation is the number 4. Let's delve into why the number 4 is considered unlucky in Chinese tradition.

Why is four an unlucky number?

The number 4, pronounced as "sì" in Mandarin, sounds similar to the word for death, which is "sǐ." This phonetic resemblance has led to a widespread belief that the number 4 brings bad luck and is associated with death and misfortune.

Manifestations in Daily Life

Avoidance in Building Floors:

Many buildings skip the number 4 in floor numbering. For instance, some buildings may not have a fourth floor or any floor containing the number 4, such as 14th or 24th. This is because living on a floor associated with the sound of "death" is believed to bring bad luck.

Hospital Room Numbers:

In some hospitals, room numbers may also avoid the use of the number 4 to prevent patients or their families from feeling uneasy.

Pricing Strategies:

Some businesses also avoid using the number 4 in pricing. For example, prices may be set at 39 yuan or 49 yuan instead of 40 yuan.

Mobile Phone Models:

In the past, Apple released the iPhone 4. However, due to the negative connotations of the number 4, some people may prefer to choose other models, such as the iPhone 5.

  • Why don't you buy this house?
    Nǐ wèishéme bù mǎi zhège fángzi?
  • Because it's on the fourth floor, and I don't like that number.
    Yīnwèi tā zài sì lóu, wǒ kě bù xǐhuān nàge shùzì.
  • Why didn't you buy the iPhone 4?
    你的手机为什么没买iPhone 4?
    Nǐ de shǒujī wèishéme méi mǎi iPhone 4?
  • Because I heard that four is an unlucky number, so I chose the iPhone 5.
    因为我听说四是个不吉利的数字,所以选了iPhone 5。
    Yīnwèi wǒ tīngshuō sì shì gè bù jílì de shùzì, suǒyǐ xuǎnle iPhone 5.

Besides the number 4, do you know any other numbers that Chinese people don't like?

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