English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

What does the phrase triple witching hour mean?

I have seen it in the financial news relating to stock markets. I sense it has to do with the convergence of three events, deadlines or periods that acting together place pressure (what kind? I don't know) on the stock markets.

Edit: What is the origin of triple witching hour?

share|improve this question
up vote 1 down vote accepted

A "triple witching hour" is, according to InvestorWords,

The final hour of the stock market trading session on the third Friday of March, June, September, and December, when option contracts and futures contracts expire on market indexes used by program traders. The simultaneous expirations often set off heavy trading of options, futures and the underlying stocks, which can cause large fluctuations in the value of their underlying stocks.

share|improve this answer
Ah, (1) final hour, (2) third friday, (3) expiration of contracts, three events occuring simultaneously. Methinks the word "witching" also connotes some misfortune is at hand, like falls in prices. Possibly not something to look forward to? – Sky Red Feb 7 '11 at 4:41
In folklore, the "witching hour" is the hour starting at midnight -- traditionally the time during the night where it was believed supernatural beings (i.e. witches, ghosts, etc.) would emerge to do their magic. – Greg R. Feb 7 '11 at 11:47

The answers so far are close, but don't correctly explain the "triple" part of it. The contracts for (1) stock index futures, (2) stock index options and (3) stock options all expire on day described.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.