Chinese Unlucky/Inauspicious Numbers


Those who are interested in Chinese good luck numbers also need to understand the unlucky numbers that plague their culture. While the Chinese believe that a lot of numbers offer good luck, they are superstitious about a few unlucky numbers. Chinese unlucky numbers are limited to just a handful, though a number’s luck will vary depending on the area in which the person lives.


By understanding these Chinese inauspicious numbers, you get a better look at the beliefs that drive Chinese beliefs and superstitions. Even though many people of Chinese descent may not understand why these numbers are unlucky, they may still avoid them in their lives.  

Chinese Bad Luck Numbers

There are two primary Chinese bad luck numbers avoided as much as possible. However, some lucky numbers are considered unlucky in certain circumstances. We will outline unlucky numbers below and discuss how positive numbers can turn unlucky in the right circumstances. 

Number four in China


In almost every Asian country, including China, four is considered an unlucky number. That is because of the fact their word for four sounds so similar to their word for death. As a result, it is possible to see elevators in buildings with an F floor, rather than a fourth floor. However, this superstition is pronounced enough that product lines often skip the number four and go straight to five. 


In some circumstances, this can create strange design choices. A floor with an elevator that goes up to 60 may only have 50 because 40-49 were omitted from the building design. Even worse, when four is paired with a lucky number, it typically causes that number to lose its luck. For example, eight is usually a lucky number for a business. However, 84 is considered a bad number for business, as its meaning equates to business death. 


Five is considered an unlucky number because it is phonetically similar to the Chinese word for not. That said, five doesn’t have as many negative connotations as four. For example, most buildings will have fifth and 50-59 floors. In some instances, the negation of this number can be a positive thing, particularly when paired with a negative number. 


For example, 54 is a positive number because five changes the negative meaning of four. However, adding five to a positive number will negate the strength of that figure. For example, 58 is a bad business number because it negates the eight. In larger numbers, this can get even more complex and typically requires skilled numerological analysis.

Unlucky numbers in China
Unlucky Numbers in China



While we mentioned seven as a lucky Chinese number on our lucky numbers section, it can also be a negative number in individual districts of China. For example, Cantonese China considers it a negative number because the seventh month of the year, July, is regarded as a ghost month. Their word for seven also sounds like their word for leaving or deceiving. 


Like other unlucky numbers, combining this digit with a positive one results in a negative number. For example, 37 could indicate deceptive change, as three indicates positive growth. It is important to remember, though, that seven is often considered a lucky number in other areas of China, a fact which changes based on geography and language differences.

How Unlucky Numbers Affect Chinese Culture

Unlucky Numbers in China


How else do these unlucky numbers impact Chinese culture? We already mentioned the fact that most buildings will skip the fourth floor. Beyond that, we briefly touched on the implications it has on manufacturing processes. For example, many phone models skip the fourth iteration. For example, a Nokia may go from model 13 to model 15 as a way of avoiding bad luck.


However, many architectural design firms will avoid buildings that have four of any item. For example, it may have three windows on the front of a building even if four can fit. It is important to be aware of the fact, though, that not every person in China follows these superstitions and beliefs. The impact of these unlucky numbers is similar to the way that Western cultures avoid 13. So while these views do exist in the area, not everybody believes in them deeply.

Unlucky numbers in China

An Inside Luck at Chinese Superstitions and Beliefs


Chinese inauspicious numbers often drive many aspects of their culture, including the ways we mentioned above. If you are interested in learning more about Chinese unlucky numbers and how they affect culture around the world, please check out the rest of our site. We have detailed information on many interesting Chinese superstitions and beliefs. 


Our information is carefully researched and written with great care and attention to detail. Whenever possible, we use direct sources to get the most accurate and valuable information for you. So if you are of Chinese descent or simply researching this fascinating culture, check out the rest of our site to learn more.