Why Do Fishermen Never Say Rabbit? (No Bunnies on the Boat)

rabbit beside a man covering his mouth

For many people, a rabbit’s foot means good luck. However, for fishermen, ‘rabbit’ is a bad word that you should never say on a boat. Here’s why fishermen never say rabbit!

The superstition started as early as the 19th century and came from the belief that rabbits are cursed animals. Mentioning one of the creatures while on a boat can bring you bad luck. So you should never say the R-word when you board a boat to go fishing.

You may think the superstition is silly. But understanding why rabbits are believed to bring bad luck may help you understand this peculiar faux pas.

Why Don’t You Say Rabbit On a Boat?

Fishermen have many superstitions.

One of the most common fishing superstitions is that rabbits are bad luck. Naming the animal while on a boat will bring disaster to the entire fishing crew. The more superstitious reason is that a rabbit’s foot is thought to be lucky on land but unlucky at sea.

Even mentioning the R-word can invoke the Devil and spell disaster for your fishing excursion. Although many casual anglers disregard the superstition, most experience captains who spend a lot of time on the water know better than to tempt fate.

Why Are Rabbits Bad Luck?

In reality, the reasoning behind the rabbit superstition probably has a practical origin. The small creatures are notorious gnawers, and wood is their favorite material to chew on. Back when boats were made of wood instead of metal, a rabbit could do serious damage if it got lost in a boat while on a long voyage.

Finding a rabbit on a boat was never a good thing in past centuries. Supposedly, it often led to boat damage. People learned to avoid saying the animal’s name for fear they would accidentally conjure one that could damage the ship and cause bad luck when fishing.

Although most boats are now made of metal or fiberglass, fishermen have associated rabbits with boat damage for so long that the superstition stuck. As the superstition evolved, the word rabbit became synonymous with a cursed animal. So, fishermen have continued to believe rabbits bring bad luck.

Rabbit Superstitions

Rabbits have several superstitions surrounding them. Interestingly, they are considered good luck when on land. People from North America and Britain even believe that repeating the R-word on the first day of the month will bring them good luck.

However, if you mention the same word on a fishing boat, you’ll quickly be educated on why you should never say rabbit on a boat. Experienced captains aren’t afraid to make sure all of their passengers and crew members follow the rules of the sea and resist tempting fate.

Rabbits may look like cute, cuddly creatures, but you never want to talk about them while you’re fishing. You may think that fishermen are just being superstitious, and perhaps they are. But it’s better to be safe than sorry!

If you want to stay safe on a fishing boat and bring home a good haul, avoid using the R-word at all costs. This should help to avoid the bad luck it may bring.