Tetraphobia leads Richmond Hill, Ont. to ban the number four

The number four appears on a home as an address marker.

Four is the loneliest number in Richmond Hill, Ontario.

Residents in that city have shunned the number four, saying they don't want to live with it on their houses. And now they won't have to.

The Richmond Hill Liberal reported that council voted to avoid the number from now on, simply skipping four as it numbers houses in sequence. The reason behind this numerical discrimination is that four is considered unlucky in many Asian cultures, because the word sounds like "death" in Cantonese and Mandarin.

[ Related: Ottawa's wedding slump blamed on unlucky number ]

It's called tetraphobia.

A local councillor said he had received a flood of requests from residents who complained they didn't want the number associated with their properties or they couldn't sell their houses because of buyers' superstition, according to the local newspaper.

Homeowners with a house that is currently numbered with four can apply to add a letter, making their address 4C or 4D, for example.

Nearby Markham has had similar concerns about the number, with residents applying to change their addresses a few years ago for fear they could lose thousands when they sell their homes, according to the Toronto Star.

More recently, Saskatchewan's new area code nearly became 474, according to CBC News. But the telecommunications company SaskTel requested the number 639, in part, it said, to respect the cultures of those who'd rather not dial an unlucky number to reach their loved ones.

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No doubt SaskTel was also looking to make sure the number four didn't bring the company any bad luck of its own, from customers feeling wary of dialing the dreaded digits.