Description: It is bad luck to whistle on a ship; it is bad luck to whistle in a theatre.
Origin: 17th Century Europe
This is another health-and-safety rule encoded as a superstition. Sailors working in the rigging of a ship used calls and whistles to communicate, and the sailing orders were issued on a small pipe called a fife Any casual whistling was liable to bring a heavy boom or a pulley-block down on your head, not to mention naval discipline.
In the landlubber version of this superstition, the stage hands who moved scenery with ropes high in the 'fly floor' of a theatre were often former sailors, and it was feared a mistaken whistle might trigger an impromptu change of the scenery.
WHISTLING ON A SHIP
Note: These superstitions
were researched and written by Stuart Macfarlane (Website:
and Tom Metcalfe (Website:
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