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Murphy's Law

noun
1.
the facetious proposition that if something can go wrong, it will.
Also called Murphy's First Law.
Origin
Americanism; after a fictitious Murphy, allegedly the name of a bungling mechanic in U.S. Navy educational cartoons of the 1950s
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for Murphy's Law

Murphy's law

noun
1.
(informal) another term for Sod's law
Word Origin
C20: of uncertain origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for Murphy's Law

Murphy's law

1958, used of various pessimistic aphorisms. If there ever was a real Murphy his identity is lost to history. Said to be military originally, and probably pre-dates the earliest printed example (the 1958 citation calls it "an old military maxim").

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Murphy's Law in Culture

Murphy's Law definition


A rule that states, “If something can go wrong, it will.” An addition to this law reads, “and usually at the worst time.” The identity of “Murphy” is unknown, but the saying was first used during the 1940s and may have originated with members of the armed forces in World War II.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Slang definitions & phrases for Murphy's Law

Murphy's Law

noun phrase

The supposed principle that if anything can go wrong, it will •Called ''an old military maxim'' in the earliest known printed example (1958+)


The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Murphy's Law in Technology
humour
(Or "Sod's Law") The correct, *original* Murphy's Law reads: "If there are two or more ways to do something, and one of those ways can result in a catastrophe, then someone will do it." This is a principle of defensive design, cited here because it is usually given in mutant forms less descriptive of the challenges of design for lusers. For example, you don't make a two-pin plug symmetrical and then label it "THIS WAY UP"; if it matters which way it is plugged in, then you make the design asymmetrical (see also the anecdote under magic smoke).
Edward A. Murphy, Jr. was one of the engineers on the rocket-sled experiments that were done by the US Air Force in 1949 to test human acceleration tolerances (USAF project MX981). One experiment involved a set of 16 accelerometers mounted to different parts of the subject's body. There were two ways each sensor could be glued to its mount, and somebody methodically installed all 16 the wrong way around. Murphy then made the original form of his pronouncement, which the test subject (Major John Paul Stapp) quoted at a news conference a few days later.
Within months "Murphy's Law' had spread to various technical cultures connected to aerospace engineering. Before too many years had gone by variants had passed into the popular imagination, changing as they went. Most of these are variants on "Anything that can go wrong, will"; this is sometimes referred to as Finagle's Law. The memetic drift apparent in these mutants clearly demonstrates Murphy's Law acting on itself!
[Jargon File]
(1998-02-14)
The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010 http://foldoc.org
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Idioms and Phrases with Murphy's Law

Murphy's law

If anything can go wrong, it will, as in We may think we've covered all the details for the benefit, but remember Murphy's law. The identity of Murphy, if ever a real person, is unknown. Some think it alludes to (but was not invented by) a feckless Irishman named Murphy. [ c. 1940 ]
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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16
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