Other Names:
Bad luck
Unlucky people
Ill-starred people

Luck is the experience of notably positive, negative, or improbable events. The naturalistic interpretation is that positive and negative events happen all the time in human lives, both due to random and non-random natural and artificial processes, and that even improbable events can happen by random chance. In this view, being "lucky" or "unlucky" is simply a descriptive label that points out an event's positivity, negativity, or improbability. Supernatural interpretations of luck consider it to be an attribute of a person or object, or the result of a favorable or unfavorable view of a deity upon a person. These interpretations often prescribe how luckiness or unluckiness can be obtained, such as by carrying a lucky charm or making sacrifices or prayers to a deity. Saying someone is "born lucky" then might mean, depending on the interpretation, anything from that they have been born into a good family or circumstance, or that they habitually experience improbably positive events due to some inherent property or the lifelong favor of a god or goddess in a monotheistic or polytheistic religion,

Many superstitions are related to luck, though these are often specific to a given culture or set of related cultures, and sometimes contradictory. For example, lucky symbols include the number 7 in Christian-influenced cultures, but the number 8 in Chinese-influenced cultures. Unlucky symbols and events include entering and leaving a house by different doors in Greek culture, throwing rocks in to the wind in Navajo culture, and ravens in Western culture. Some of these associations may derive from related facts or desires. For example, in Western culture opening an umbrella indoors might be considered unlucky partly because it could poke someone in the eye, whereas shaking hands with a chimney sweep might be considered lucky partly because it is a kind but unpleasant thing to do given the dirty nature of their work. In Chinese culture, the association of the number 4 as a homophone with the word for death may explain why it is considered unlucky. Extremely complicated and sometimes contradictory systems for prescribing auspicious and inauspicious times and arrangements of things have been devised, for example feng shui in Chinese culture and systems of astrology in various cultures around the world.

Many polytheistic religions have specific gods or goddesses that are associated with luck, including Fortuna and Felicitas in the Ancient Roman religion (the former related to the words "fortunate" and "unfortunate" in English), Dedun in Nubian religion, the Seven Lucky Gods in Japanese mythology, mythical American serviceman John Frum in Polynesian cargo cults, and the inauspicious Alakshmi in Hinduism.

Belief in luck and the difficulties following from bad luck are widespread, both in developed and developing countries. It is a major preoccupation in certain cultures and milieu, especially those where gambling is favoured. Some people, groups or locations may be perceived as bearers of bad luck. Many superstitions relate to the possibility of bringing on bad luck. Some of these continue to be treated with concern in development related projects. In 1990, for example, special publicity was given to the role of the President of Argentina in bringing bad luck under a wide variety of circumstances. Officials of NASA declared in 1990 that their space programmes were suffering from a run of bad luck.
Broader Problems:
Accident proneness
Problem Type:
F: Fuzzy exceptional problems
Date of last update
01.01.2000 – 00:00 CET
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