Appalachia Appalachia Through My Eyes

Appalachia Through My Eyes – Knock On Wood

In the last few days I’ve heard 3 different people say ‘knock on wood’. I don’t remember exactly what they were talking about before saying the phrase, but the ‘knock on wood’ was said as a hope for something to continue to be true.

I’ve heard knock on wood my whole life-it’s one of Granny’s favorite good luck sayings. And if she can’t find a piece of wood-like if she’s in the car-she knocks on glass, plastic, whatever and says she’s just knocking on that till she gets to where some woods at 🙂

I don’t say ‘knock on wood’ myself, but as an adult there have been times I heard things Granny says come straight out of my mouth-even before I knew they were going to. So who knows maybe someday I’ll be knocking on wood too.

How about you do you knock on wood?


Appalachia Through My Eyes – A series of photographs from my life in Southern Appalachia.


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  • Reply
    stephanie clayton
    October 11, 2016 at 10:54 am

    I certainly do use it! Now that you mention it, there is a song from the distant past of my teen years, performed by Amii Stewart with the title, Knock on Wood.
    What a hoot!

  • Reply
    July 12, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    I do say knock on wood – usually while knocking on my head! I say it when it looks like something is about to go well.

  • Reply
    July 11, 2011 at 12:09 am

    I have used the phrase forever. I was told that mom knocked on our heads, because usually us kids were as stuborn as pine knots. lol

  • Reply
    July 10, 2011 at 8:14 pm

    Funny that I have actually knocked on wood a couple of times this past week. Not something that I usually do.

  • Reply
    Brian Blake
    July 10, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    Always thought “to knock on wood” meant to tap my forehead, signifying deep thought.

  • Reply
    July 10, 2011 at 10:19 am

    Oh yeah! And if I don’t have any wood handy, I knock on my head. LOL

  • Reply
    July 9, 2011 at 8:52 pm

    Jim Cassada’s response is a laugh out loud read, thanks so much for that…my response has nothing to do with knocking on wood, except I don’t want to be the one who breaks wind unexpectedly…knock on wood:)

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    July 9, 2011 at 7:22 pm

    Tipper–As I re-read this blog and the comments, something suddenly occurred to me regarding “knock on wood.” In my high school days, there was a popular activity among footloose and frolicsome teenage boys known as “wooding up.” It was the essence of simple crudity and typical of adolescent concepts of humor.
    Whenever some n’er do well audibly broke wind, everyone within hearing range had to “wood up” or else you could hit them. “Wooding up” simply meantyou had to knock on a piece of wood–any piece–to be safe from harm. Many boys made a habit of carrying a wooden toothpick with them for safety’s sake.
    The whole practice came to a screeching halt when a classmate who was permanently afflicted by flatulence let go in the middle of an English class and every boy in the room rapped the top of his wooden desk. The teacher cleared all the girls out of the room and reamed out the boys in a most memorable way. So much was this the case that at my 50th high school class reunion the offending (and offensive) party mentioned it at some point and every male who had been present remembered the event down to the last detail.
    Now, I bet you never, ever thought that “knock on wood” could bring such a topic into the light of day, and if you decide to reprimand me, thinking as you do that “Jim has just flat gone too far this time” and not post this, I’ll understand.
    On the other hand, it typifies some of what passes (or at least used to pass) for humor among teenagers.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Kimberly Burnette
    July 9, 2011 at 6:19 pm

    I have said “knock on wood” as long as I can remember. Even if I don’t always say “knock on wood” I will rap on something made of wood three times.
    –Kimberly in Virginia

  • Reply
    July 9, 2011 at 5:15 pm

    I use this term all the time….and like many others, if wood isn’t handy, knock on my own head.

  • Reply
    Melissa P. (misplaced Southerner)
    July 9, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    I’ve said, “Knock on wood,” as far back as I can remember. Doesn’t always work…but I still say it.

  • Reply
    July 9, 2011 at 3:29 pm

    Yes, I use the expression “knock on wood” and then give my head a few thumps!

  • Reply
    July 9, 2011 at 3:02 pm

    When I’m in the car, I say, “Knock on simulated wood grain,” and knock on the fake wood panel on the dashboard.

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    July 9, 2011 at 2:56 pm

    Used that term all my life and, hopefully, will continue to use it for a long time (knock on wood!).

  • Reply
    July 9, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    This year I have fished many times
    in the beautiful Nantahala River
    for Rainbow Trout, and I ain’t been checked one time for a license: Knock on Wood (I do have
    one) But a few weeks ago I was
    there fishing with some friends and I sure hoped the game warden
    was gone home for the day, cause
    apparently one didn’t have a
    license and I just could’t stand
    the thoughts of seeing her get
    cuffed. But, Knock of Wood, it was
    a good day…Ken

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    July 9, 2011 at 10:36 am

    Tipper–An interesting variant on the “knock on wood” theme in connection with good luck is an old chestnut from the shooter’s world. It suggests (and rightly) that good fortune in shooting accuracy involves “wood to wood.” That means it is essential to get the wood of the gun’s stock against the wood of the shooter’s hard head. If it doesn’t immediately make sense to you, get the Deer Hunter to explain. It will make sense to him and he’s probably heard it.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Kent Lockman
    July 9, 2011 at 9:39 am

    I have always knocked on wood when I am worried that the worst of something could happen. My daughter asked me how I was doing with my bad gall bladder recently. I answerd…I am doing alright, knock on wood. I promptly rapped on the arm of the porch swing I was sitting on. Can’t remember a time when I didn’t use that expression.
    Kent Lockman

  • Reply
    July 9, 2011 at 9:09 am

    Knock on wood has been in my vocab for from being out in the work force as a teen. I thought it was interesting that someone would use that phrase and I quickly learned it was like a “thank goodness”.
    Sample: My car was running on fumes and I made it without running out of gas, “knock on wood” (Thank Goodness)
    If there wasn’t wood to knock on I learned to knock on your head. Many years later I thought, if I knock on my head does that mean I’m a “block head”. 🙂

  • Reply
    July 9, 2011 at 9:01 am

    Coming from the North, we used that phrase since I was a little girl. However, if there wasn’t a piece of wood somewhere, we used to knock on our heads. I guess my parents thought at least we were wishing for something good to continue and we might just have a piece of wood in our heads.

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    July 9, 2011 at 8:27 am

    I have said ‘knock on wood’ as long as I can remember…
    I am knocking on wood (doors) today in hopes I can find someone to take some of these cucumbers. We have given some to the neighbors twice and made pickles three times!!
    Husband just brought in another big bucket full last night.
    Then I saw a ‘green giant cucumber-police-like thing’ standing guard ore the vines to protect them so they would be making more and more cucumbers!…
    When I woke-up this morning, before goin’ to the garden, I ‘knocked on wood’ in hopes the ‘green thing’ was a dream!
    Thanks Tipper,

  • Reply
    July 9, 2011 at 8:20 am

    i say this all the time, it is common for me to use it as did my mother and most of my friends. i hear it at the nursing home a lot, so I am thinking it is from the generation before you. i always knocked on my kids head for the wood and sometimes my own.

  • Reply
    Ed Myers
    July 9, 2011 at 8:11 am

    Okay, so I cheated.
    Several theories
    KNOCK ON WOOD: There are several theories about the origin of this very common practice. One goes back to the child’s game of `tag.’ In one version of this game the child who is able to touch a tree, thereby touching wood, is free from capture.
    Then there is a Biblical theory that the wood symbolizes the cross on which Christ was crucified. In Galatians (6:14) we find `But God forbid that I should glory, save the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ .’ The theory here is that if you have made an exaggerated boast you will be forgiven if you turn your thoughts to the Cross.
    Still another notion is that `knocking on wood’ goes far back into ancient times, when spirits were thought to live in trees. So should danger threaten, simply rap on the trunk of a tree and summon up the aid of the good spirit within.
    There is an Irish belief that you `knock on wood’ to let the leprechauns know that you are thanking them for a bit of good luck.
    A Jewish version says it originated during the Spanish Inquisition under Torquemada during the 1490s. During that time Jews were in flight and since temples and synagogues were built of wood, they evolved a code to use in knocking on doors to gain admission. Since this resulted in lives being saved, it became commonplace to `knock on wood’ for good luck.
    Take your choice of these five theories – but be sure to `knock on wood’ so you will pick the right one.

  • Reply
    July 9, 2011 at 7:32 am

    They used to say “Knock on wood” when they were trying to ward off bad luck around here. I don’t think that dog that bit me the other day had Rabies (Knock on wood). My Granny would sometimes say knock on wood and if there was no wood around she would rap her knucles on my head and laugh.
    Oh by the way I wasn’t far away when The Blind Pig Gang was at Blairsville courthouse. Would loved to have been in the crowd and seen everyone. Didn’t feel “Up to snuff” that day so thought I’d better stay close to the front porch.

  • Reply
    Debby Brown
    July 9, 2011 at 7:22 am

    I DO knock on wood! But not all the time, just sometimes when I think of it I guess, but I hear lots of other folks say it and do it. I seem to remember that where that come from, is something about evil spirits being in wood or trees, and people would knock on it so if there was one listening, they would knock on wood to make it leave so that they couldn’t put a spell on whatever you said and make it not happen, or not come true, or jinx it some how. That’s just something I have heard somewhere along the way, haha! And by the way, when I don’t have any wood to knock on, I generally just knock on my head, its made of wood, you know! 🙂

  • Reply
    Donna W
    July 9, 2011 at 7:16 am

    I’ve used that phrase very recently. Since I changed my last name to “Wood” when I married, I just knock on my head as I say it… or on my husband’s head. Very handy.

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