Murphy's law

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Murphy's law is a popular adage that states that "things will go wrong in any given situation, if you give them a chance," or more commonly, "whatever can go wrong, will go wrong." A number of variants on the rule have been formulated, as have several corollaries.


  • If that guy has any way of making a mistake, he will.
  • If it can happen, it will happen.
    • Precedent condensed by team members according to George E. Nichols.
  • Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.
  • If there's more than one way to do a job, and one of those ways will result in disaster, then somebody will do it that way
    • According to Robert Murphy (son of Edward A. Murphy, Jr.) his father's statement was along these lines; reported in People (January 31, 1983), p. 82. Alternately reported as "If there is a wrong way to do something, then someone will do it", in Robert L. Forward, "Murphy Lives!", Science 83 (January-February 1983), p. 78. Also commonly reported as, "If anything can go wrong, it will", in J. A. Simpson, ed., The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs (1982), p. 4.
  • Anything That Can Possibly Go Wrong, Does
    • Epigraph of The Butcher: The Ascent of Yerupaja (1952) by John Sack
  • Colonel Stapp's favorite takeoff on sober scientific laws — Murphy's Law, Stapp calls it — 'Everything that can possibly go wrong will go wrong'
    • Men, Rockets and Space Rats (1955) by Lloyd Mallan, possibly the earliest printed use of Murphy's name in connection with the law.
  • Murphy's Quantum Law: Anything that can, could have, or will go wrong, is going wrong, all at once.
  • Anything that can go wrong already has, you're just not aware of it yet!
    • Elson's Law © 1978, 2009 By Edward E. Elson
  • If there are two or more ways to do something, and one of those ways can result in a catastrophe or pregnancy, then someone will do it.
  • All theories on losing weight and staying fit work only for the one who proposed the theory. The fees paid to enroll in such programs serve mainly to ensure the perpetuity of these programs.
    • Carlson's Law of Physical Fitness
  • Smith's Law: "Murphy was an optimist."

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