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Murphy's law

This page is about the eponym Murphy's law


the idea, a supposed law of Nature, that anything that can go wrong will go wrong

For example

  • First our son got a cold. Now our daughter has the flu. We leave for our vacation tomorrow. It's Murphy's law.

  • Everything went wrong at my wedding. It rained, the food was cold and my bride fainted. I guess it was just Murphy's law.

This idea is also known as Finagle's law of dynamic negatives, which suggests that things will go wrong at the worst possible moment.

Origin: Captain Edward Murphy (1919-1990) was an American aerospace engineer. While working on experimental aircraft at the United States Airforce Institution of Technology, Murphy determined that one should always plan for worst-case scenarios. This idea, which in fact predated Edward Murphy, became known as Murphy's law.

Quick Quiz

Which of the following is an accurate example of Murphy's law?

a. A piece of bread always falls to the ground butter side down.

b. First babies are usually born a few days later than expected.

c. The power often goes out during a thunderstorm.

Contributor: Tara Benwell