“May the wolf die!”

Today I learned an Italian idiom for wishing someone good luck that struck me as rather intriguing.

The phrase In bocca al lupo literally means “into the wolf’s mouth.”

The common reply on being wished good luck in this way is crepi il lupo – may the wolf die, or simply Crepi! meaning “May it die!”

The superstition embedded in such idiomatic phrases is that it is bad luck to wish someone good luck directly.

It is amusing to consider the ways in which presuming the worst can be a way of actually hoping for the best.

The Italian who taught me this idiom said that this mentality is quite deeply embedded in the culture. For example, before going rock climbing with some of his Mexican friends recently, he suggested to them that they would all be in the news after the trip having fallen off of the cliffs to their deaths.

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