Earlier this week, Chinese smartphone maker OnePlus launched its flagship smartphone OnePlus 5. The device is the company’s fifth flagship smartphone and a successor to OnePlus 3T. Interestingly, the company never released any smartphone named ‘OnePlus 4’ or ‘OnePlus 4T’. In fact, Finnish smartphone maker Nokia has also shunned away from naming an entire series of phones beginning with the number ‘4’.
But have you ever wondered why?
Why OnePlus never named a phone ‘OnePlus 4’? Why some residential buildings in Hong Kong skip all the floor numbers beginning with the number four? Why did the Beijing Traffic Management Bureau stop issuing license plates containing the number four?
Well, the answer is both simple and surprising. The number ‘four’ sound like the word ‘death’ in Mandarin and Cantonese, which are two most common dialects spoken in China. The Chinese word for the number four (pinyin: sì, jyutping: sei), sounds similar to the word for death (pinyin: sǐ, jyutping: sei) and hence many neighbourhoods in Asia avoid naming any street beginning with the number four.
But China is not the only country that shies away from using the number four. Many Asian nations including Korean, Japan and Taiwan avoid using the number four due to similar connotations.
The fear of number four is called Tetraphobia and it is similar to the fear of number thirteen (also called Triskaidekaphobia) in the West. It is similar to the fear of Friday the 13th.
So next time someone asks you a trick question, you know what to say!
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