The meaning of, and background to, the well-known expression "Keep your fingers crossed.

Well-Known Expressions

Keep your fingers crossed

Meaning:

Wish me luck

Background:

Some sources say that "keep your fingers crossed" is a reference to the Christian cross. However, these same sources date the expression to the 20th century, which seems surprisingly recent considered its supposed origin.

It seems more likely that the expression maybe modern but that its origins date far back into history. The cross was a powerful symbol in many pre-Christian cultures* and making the sign of the cross to ward of danger is an old superstition.  In some European cultures two people were required to use their index fingers to form the sign, one to make the wish, the other to support it, but overtime this was modified so one person could wish on his/her own.

*For example, the symbol of the Babylonian sun god is a cross; the Egyptian ankh is a cross with a loop on the top; and the swastika, which was a holy symbol of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism long before the Nazis adopted it as their own, is also a cross). In fact, it is quite likely that the early Christian's adoption of the cross was because it was already considered a powerful symbol. Evidence suggests that Jesus was hung from an upright post without a cross-piece. A simple stake was apparently standard practice at the times and in the earliest Greek versions of Acts (believed to have been recorded by Luke ~60-120 AD) the word stauros (stake) is used in reference to the crucifixion.

Alphabetical list of expressions

Challenge yourself with BookBrowse Wordplays

Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  
Sign up, win books!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket
    Mrs. Hemingway
    by Naomi Wood
    Naomi Wood's latest novel, Mrs. Hemingway, is a fictionalized biography covering in turn writer...
  • Book Jacket
    The Stranger on the Train
    by Abbie Taylor
    The opening chapter of Abbie Taylor's debut novel, The Stranger on the Train, took me right back to ...
  • Book Jacket
    Night Film
    by Marisha Pessl
    One of the central tenets of Hinduism states that the world as we know it is just an illusion –...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

The City
by Dean Koontz

Published Jul. 2014

Join the discussion!

  1.  66Tomlinson Hill:
    Chris Tomlinson

All Discussions

Win this book!
Win The Angel of Losses

The Angel of Losses

"Family saga, mystery, and myth intersect in Feldman's debut novel." - Booklist

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

E C H A Silver L

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.