Wednesday, October 12, 2016

A Glossary of Luck

From Lapham's Quarterly:

The language of luck, from “gris-gris” to “Irish lottery.”
aleatory: Dependent on uncertain events or occurrences; haphazard, random. From Latin aleatorius, belonging to or connected with gamblers or games of chance; aleator, gambler, dice player; alea, die, dice (of unknown origin).

apophenia: The tendency to perceive connections or meaningful patterns in random data; often used in ref. to divination, as in reading of tea leaves, or Roman practice of finding meaning in entrails. (See also gambler’s fallacy.)

auspicious: Of good omen; betokening success. From Latin auspicium, divination by observing flights of birds.

Bayern luck: The belief that the football club Bayern Munich frequently wins in the last minute of a match.

chance: Something unpredictable that happens without any discernible human cause. From Old French cheance, Provençal cazensa, Italian cadenza, via late Latin cadentia, falling.

depressive realism: A psychological hypothesis that claims depressed people judge their control of events more accurately than do nondepressed people.

doom: A law or ordinance, esp. in Anglo-Saxon England; unhappy destiny. “All unavoided is the doom of destiny.”—William Shakespeare, Richard III

fate: Inevitable necessity; destiny depending on a superior and uncontrollable cause. From Latin fatum, that which has been spoken.

fluke: Lucky stroke, chance hit (1857). Also flook, said to be originally a lucky shot at billiards (of uncertain origin); may be connected with fluke in ref. to whale’s use of flukes to swim rapidly. OED allows only that fluke is “possibly of Eng. dialectal origin.”

Fortuna: Goddess of luck in Roman and Greek (as Tyche) culture. Not always benevolent: she could be fickle (Fortuna Brevis), doubtful (Fortuna Dubia), or evil (Fortuna Mala). From Latin vortumna, she who turns the year about.

fortune-teller: “One who cheats common people by pretending to the knowledge of futurity.”—Samuel Johnson, Dictionary of the English Language

HT: The Browser