Why do we say fear is 90? The meaning and origin of the saying

One of the most famous Italian sayings is certainly “fear makes 90” and its literal meaning is that lFear pushes us to do things that would otherwise be unthinkable. It will have happened to everyone at least once in their lives, in the grip of a strong fright or in a dangerous situation, to impulsively do something that under normal conditions would never occur to us. The point is: what does the number 90 have to do with it?

The association of the feeling of fear with the number 90 is connected to the most famous book used to interpret dreams in order to draw the winning numbers to play the lottery: The Grimace, or Kabbalah. Although the origin of the term is uncertain, it is usually linked to the Greek god of sleep, Morpheusprecisely for the use of translating dreams into “game”.

The origin of the Smorfia is linked to the city of Naples, although there are several in many cities; in Smorfia many types of person, object, animal, action or specific situation are associated with a particular number ranging from 1 to 90. Needless to say, fear is precisely the number 90 (as happens in the game of Tombola).

Making it clear that it is one folklore tradition which has nothing scientific about it, among other more classic combinations there are, for example, 25 (Christmas), 48 (the dead man who speaks) and 55 (Music). Not everything you dream, however, corresponds to a number of the Smorfia. In fact, think that there are real “experts” who deal with interpreting a dream and translating it into the “lucky number”.

Over time the Neapolitan Smorfia has become an integral part of popular culture, influencing literature, theater and cinema, as in the famous 1951 film directed by Giorgio SimonelliFear is 90”.