have the wood on, Australian Slang. to have an advantage over or have information that can be used against.
    knock on wood, (used when knocking on something wooden to assure continued good luck): The car's still in good shape, knock on wood.Also especially British, touch wood.
    out of the woods,
    1. out of a dangerous, perplexing, or difficult situation; secure; safe.
    2. no longer in precarious health or critical condition; out of danger and recovering.

Origin of wood

before 900; Middle English; Old English wudu, earlier widu; cognate with Old Norse vithr, Old High German witu, Old Irish fid
Related formswood·less, adjective

Synonyms for wood

7. See forest. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for knock on wood



Mrs Henry, married name of Ellen Price . 1814–87, British novelist, noted esp for the melodramatic novel East Lynne (1861)
Sir Henry (Joseph). 1869–1944, English conductor, who founded the Promenade Concerts in London
John, known as the Elder . 1707–54, British architect and town planner, working mainly in Bath, where he designed the North and South Parades (1728) and the Circus (1754)
his son, John, known as the Younger . 1727–82, British architect: designed the Royal Crescent (1767–71) and the Assembly Rooms (1769–71), Bath
Ralph. 1715–72, British potter, working in Staffordshire, who made the first toby jug (1762)




the hard fibrous substance consisting of xylem tissue that occurs beneath the bark in trees, shrubs, and similar plantsRelated adjectives: ligneous, xyloid
the trunks of trees that have been cut and prepared for use as a building material
a collection of trees, shrubs, herbs, grasses, etc, usually dominated by one or a few species of tree: usually smaller than a forestan oak wood Related adjective: sylvan
fuel; firewood
  1. a long-shafted club with a broad wooden or metal head, used for driving: numbered from 1 to 7 according to size, angle of face, etc
  2. (as modifier)a wood shot
tennis squash badminton the frame of a rackethe hit a winning shot off the wood
one of the biased wooden bowls used in the game of bowls
music short for woodwind See also woods (def. 3)
  1. casks, barrels, etc, made of wood
  2. from the wood(of a beverage) from a wooden container rather than a metal or glass one
have the wood on or have got the wood on Australian and NZ informal to have an advantage over
out of the wood or out of the woods clear of or safe from dangers or doubtswe're not out of the wood yet
see the wood for the trees (used with a negative) to obtain a general view of a situation, problem, etc, without allowing details to cloud one's analysishe can't see the wood for the trees
(modifier) made of, used for, employing, or handling wooda wood fire
(modifier) dwelling in, concerning, or situated in a wooda wood nymph


(tr) to plant a wood upon
to supply or be supplied with fuel or firewood
See also woods
Derived Formswoodless, adjective

Word Origin for wood

Old English widu, wudu; related to Old High German witu, Old Norse vithr




obsolete raging or raving like a maniac

Word Origin for wood

Old English wōd; related to Old High German wuot (German Wut), Old Norse ōthr, Gothic wōths, Latin vātēs seer
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for knock on wood



Old English wudu, earlier widu "tree, trees collectively, the substance of which trees are made," from Proto-Germanic *widuz (cf. Old Norse viðr, Danish and Swedish ved "tree, wood," Old High German witu "wood"), perhaps from PIE *widhu- "tree, wood" (cf. Welsh gwydd "trees," Gaelic fiodh- "wood, timber," Old Irish fid "tree, wood"). Woodsy is from 1860. Out of the woods "safe" is from 1792.



"violently insane" (now obsolete), from Old English wod "mad, frenzied," from Proto-Germanic *woth- (cf. Gothic woþs "possessed, mad," Old High German wuot "mad, madness," German wut "rage, fury"), from PIE *wet- "to blow, inspire, spiritually arouse;" source of Latin vates "seer, poet," Old Irish faith "poet;" "with a common element of mental excitement" [Buck]. Cf. Old English woþ "sound, melody, song," and Old Norse oðr "poetry," and the god-name Odin.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

knock on wood in Science



The thick xylem of trees and shrubs, resulting from secondary growth by the vascular cambium, which produces new layers of living xylem. The accumulated living xylem is the sapwood. The older, dead xylem in the interior of the tree forms the heartwood. Often each cycle of growth of new wood is evident as a growth ring. The main components of wood are cellulose and lignin.
Related formswoody adjective
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

knock on wood in Culture

knock on wood

Some people say, “Knock on wood,” and then knock on something made of wood for good luck, when they have made a remark that has been true up to that point and they want it to continue to be true: “I've never had an accident yet, knock on wood.”


The expression alludes to an ancient superstition that touching wood would ward off evil spirits.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with knock on wood

knock on wood

Also, touch wood. Express a wish that something will or will not occur, as in This last round of treatment should have cured her, knock on wood. This expression alludes to an ancient superstition that literally knocking on or touching wood will ward off evil spirits. [c. 1900]

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.