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Murphy's Law

noun
  1. the facetious proposition that if something can go wrong, it will.
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Origin of Murphy's Law

Americanism; after a fictitious Murphy, allegedly the name of a bungling mechanic in U.S. Navy educational cartoons of the 1950s
Also called Murphy's First Law.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for murphy's law

Murphy's law

noun
  1. informal another term for Sod's law
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Word Origin for Murphy's law

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

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").

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

murphy's law in Culture

Murphy's Law

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.

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The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

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]

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.