And whatever the origin, religious or secular, Friday plus 13 equals a paralyzing, debilitating fear for millions of Americans. Paraskevidekatriaphobia, as coined by psychotherapist Donald Dossey of the Stress Management Center-Phobia Institute in Ashville, N.C., bedevils "people with blind, unreasoning fear of this day and date, as opposed to those who have a clear, reasonable fear of not being able to say that word," according to the institute's website.
Dossey tells patients, "Paraskevidekatriaphobia - when you learn to pronounce it, you're cured." Good luck with that feat of verbal dexterity, or with several other phobias that are as unpronounceable as the next.
Here're a few.
Friday, the 13th scares up plenty of fodder by itself. Besides the aforementioned paraskevidekatriaphobia, there's also an alternate spelling, paraskavedekatriaphobia. The same end-of-the-week anxiety is also called friggatriskaidekaphobia.
And the abbreviated triskaidekaphobia might roll off the tongue with less twisting but is no easier to bear for people whose fears include the number 13, every day of the week.
Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia is fear of "666." The Bible is as good a place to start as any for this phobia, where the "number of the beast" is "six hundred three score and six."
Gephyrophobia is the fear of bridges.
Arachibutyrophobia is the fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth, not to be confused with any legitimate phobia.
Psellismophobia is the fear of stuttering.
Aichmophobia is the morbid fear of sharp objects.
Spheksophobia is the fear of wasps.
Sesquipedaliophobia is the fear of long words, which has morphed into the contrived hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia. By either spelling, of course, sufferers would have been hard pressed to read beyond the headline of this article.