top of page
  • Writer's pictureAnvil Avenger

Copy of Murphy's Law Dictionary I - M

Murphy's Laws I - M


IBM Pollyanna Principle (IBM'S Incorrect Principle)

Machines should work. People should think.

Idea Formula

One man's brain plus one other will produce about one half as many ideas as one man would have produced alone. These two plus two more will produce half again as many ideas. These four plus four more begin to represent a creative meeting, and the ratio changes to one quarter as many.

The Ike Tautology

Things are more like they are now than they have ever been before.

Corollary - Nostalgia isn't what it used to be.

Iles's Law

There is an easier way to do it.


1. When looking directly at the easier way, especially for long periods, you will not see it.

2. Neither will Iles.

Imhoff's Law

The organization of any bureaucracy is very much like a septic tank -- the REALLY big chunks always rise to the top.

Law of Inanimate Mobility

All inanimate objects can move just enough to get in your way

The Inapplicable Law

Washing your car to make it rain doesn't work.

Index of Development

The degree of a country's development is measured by the ratio of the price of an automobile to the cost of a haircut. The lower the ratio, the higher the degree of development.

Law of the Individual

Nobody really cares or understands what anyone else is doing.

Law of Inertia

Where there's a will, there's a won't.

Law of Inside Dope

There are many inside dopes in politics and government.

Law of Institutions

The opulence of the front office decor varies inversely with the fundamental solvency of the firm.

Law of Insurance Rates And Taxes

Whatever goes up, stays up.

Iron Law of Distribution

Them what has -- gets. Wakefield's Refutation of the Iron Law of Distribution:

Them what gets -- has.

Issawi's Law of Aggression

At any given moment, a society contains a certain amount of accumulatedand accruing aggressiveness. If more than 21 years elapse without this aggressiveness being directed outward, in a popular war against other countries, it turns inward, in social unrest, civil disturbances, and political disruption.

Issawi's Law of Consumption Patterns

Other people's patterns of expenditure and consumption are highly irrational and slightly immoral.

Issawi's Law of Cynics

Cynics are right nine times out of ten; what undoes them is their belief that they are right ten times out of ten.

Issawi's Law of Dogmatism

When we call others dogmatic, what we really object to is their holding dogmas that are different from our own.

Issawi's Law of Estimation of Error

Experts in advanced countries underestimate by a factor of 2 to 4 the ability of people in underdeveloped countries to do anything technical.

Issawi's Law of Frustration

One cannot make an omelette without breaking eggs -- but it is amazing how many eggs one can break without making a decent omelette.

Issawi's Law of the Conservation of Evil

The total amount of evil in any system remains constant. Hence, any diminution in one direction -- for instance, a reduction in poverty or unemployment -- is accompanied by an increase in another, e.g., crime or air pollution.

Issawi's Law of the Social Sciences

By the time a social science theory is formulated in such a way that it can be tested, changing circumstances have already made it obsolete.

Issawi's Laws of Committo-Dynamics

1. Comitas comitatum, omnia comitas.

2. The less you enjoy serving on committees, the more likely you are to be pressed to do so.

Issawi's Laws of Progress

The Course of Progress: Most things get steadily worse.

The Path of Progress: A shortcut is the longest distance between two points.

The Dialectics of Progress: Direct action produces direct reaction.

The Pace of Progress: Society is a mule, not a car... If pressed too hard, it will kick and throw off its rider.

Issawi's Observation on the Consumption of Paper

Each system has its own way of consuming vast amounts of paper: in socialist societies by filling large forms in quadruplicate, in capitalist societies by putting up huge posters and wrapping every article in four layers of cardboard.

Italian Proverb

She who is silent consents.


Jacob' Law

To err is human -- to blame it on someone else is even more human.

Jacquin's Postulate on Democratic Government

No man's life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session.

Jake's Law

Anything hit with a big enough hammer will fall apart.

Jaroslovsky's Law

The distance you have to park from your apartment increases in proportion to the weight of packages you are carrying.

Jay's Laws of Leadership

1. Changing things is central to leadership, and changing them before anyone else is creativity.

2. To build something that endures, it is of the greatest important to have a long tenure in office -- to rule for many years. You can achieve a quick success in a year or two, but nearly all of the great tycoons have continued their building much longer.

Jenkinson's Law

It won't work.

Jinny's Law

There is no such thing as a short beer. (As in, "I'm going to stop off at Joe's for a short beer before on the way home.")

John Cameron's Law

No matter how many times you've had it, if it's offered, take it, because it'll never be quite the same again.

John's Axiom

When your opponent is down, kick him.

John's Collateral Corollary

In order to get a loan you must first prove you don't need it.

Johns Laws of Problems

1. Inside every large problem is a small problem struggling to get out.

2. Almost anything is easier to get into than to get out of.

3. Urgency varies inversely with importance.

Johnson's First Law

When any mechanical contrivance fails, it will do so at the most inconvenient possible time.

Johnson's First Law of Auto Repair

Any tool dropped while repairing an automobile will roll under the car to the vehicle's exact geographic center.

Johnson's Law

The number of minor illnesses among the employees is inversely proportional to the health of the organization.

Johnson's Laws

1. When any mechanical contrivance fails, it will do so at the most inconvenient time.

2. If, in the course of several months, only three worthwhile social events take place, they will all fall on the same evening.

3. If you miss one issue of any magazine, it will be the issue containing the article, story, or installment you were most anxious to read. Corollary - All of your friends either missed it, lost it, or threw it out.

Johnson's Second Law

If, in the course of several months, only three worthwhile social events take place, they will all fall on the same evening.

Johnson's Third Law

If you miss one issue of any magazine, it will be the issue that contains the article, story or installment you were most anxious to read.

Johnson-Laird's Law

Toothache tends to start on Saturday night.

Jones' Law (Nixon's Law)

The man who can smile when things go wrong -- has thought of someone he can blame it on.

Jones' Motto

Friends may come and go, but enemies accumulate.

McClaughry's Codicil on Jones's Motto: To make an enemy, do someone a favor.

Jones's Principle

Needs are a function of what other people have.

Joslyn's Law of Conferences

The most interesting paper will be presented at the same time as the second most interesting paper.

Journalistic Principle

If a headline ends in a question mark, the answer is no.

Juhani's Law

The compromise will always be more expensive than either of the suggestions it's compromising.

Julia's Law of Kitchen of Confusion

Once a dish is fouled up, anything added to save it will only make it worse.

Julian's Law

If it says "one size fits all," it doesn't fit anyone.


Kafka's Law

In the fight between you and the world, back the world.

Kamin's Laws (Banin's Laws)

1. All currencies will decrease in value and purchasing power over the long term, unless they are freely and fully convertable into gold and that gold is traded freely without restrictions of any kind.

2. Threat of capital controls accelerates marginal capital outflows.

3. Combined total taxation from all levels of government will always increase (until the government is replaced by war or revolution).

4. Government inflation is always worse than statistics indicate: central bankers are biased toward inflation when the money unit is non-convertible, and without gold or silver backing.

5. Purchasing power of currency is always lost far more rapidly than ever regained. (Those who expect even fluctuations in both directions play a losing game.)

6. When attempting to predict and forecast macro-economic moves or economic legislation by a politician, never be misled by what he says; instead watch what he does.

7. Politicians will always inflate when given the opportunity.

Kamin's Laws of economics

1. All currencies will decrease in value and purchasing power over the long term, unless they are freely and fully convertible into gold and that gold is traded freely without restrictions of any kind.

2. Threat of capital controls accelerates marginal capital outflows.

3. Combined total taxation from all levels of government will always increase (until the government is replaced by war or revolution).

4. Government inflation is always worse than statistics indicate: central bankers are biased toward inflation when the money unit is non-convertible, and without gold or silver backing.

5. Purchasing power of currency is always lost far more rapidly than ever regained. (Those who expect even fluctuations in both directions play a losing game.)

Kaplan's Law of the Instrument

Give a small boy a hammer and he will find that everything he encounters needs pounding.

Katz's Law

Men, women and nations will act rationally when all other possibilities have been exhausted.

Katz's Maxims

1. Where are the calculations that go with the calculated risk?

2. Inventing is easy for staff outfits. Stating a problem is much harder. Instead of stating problems, people like to pass out half- accurate statements together with half-available solutions which they can't finish and which they want you to finish.

3. Every organization is self-perpetuating. Don't ever ask an outfit to justify itself, or you'll be covered with facts, figures, and fancy. The criterion should rather be, "What will happen if the outfit stops doing what it's doing?" The value of an organization is more easily determined this way.

4. Try to find out who's doing the work, not who's writing about it, controlling it, or summarizing it.

5. Watch out for formal briefings; they often produce an avalanche (a high-level snow job of massive and overwhelming proportions).

6. The difficulty of the coordination task often blinds one to the fact that a fully coordinated piece of paper is not supposed to be either the major or the final product of the organization, but it often turns out that way.

7. Most organizations can't hold more than one idea at a time. Thus complementary ideas are always regarded as competetive. Further, like a quantized pendulum, an organization can jump from one extreme to the other, without ever going through the middle.

8. Try to find the real tense of the report you are reading: Was it done, is it being done, or is it something to be done? Reports are now written in four tenses: past tense, present tense, future tense, and pretense. Watch for novel uses of "contractor grammar", defined by the imperfect past, the insufficient present, and the absolutely perfect future.

Keiko's Law of Golf

The only way to avoid hitting a tree is to aim at it.

Kelley's Law

Last guys don't finish nice.

Kelly's Law

An executive will always return to work from lunch early if no one takes him.

Kennedy's Law

Excessive official restraints on information are inevitably self-defeating and productive of headaches for the officials concerned.

Kensington's Law of Shoemaking

No matter how long it takes for you to get back to pick up the shoes the shoemaker will tell you that they won't be ready until tomorrow.

Kensington's Observation

The two most common elements in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity.

Kent's Law

The only way a reporter should look at a politician is down.

Kerr-Martin Law

1. In dealing with their OWN problems, faculty members are the most extreme conservatives.

2. In dealing with OTHER people's problems, they are the world's most extreme liberals.

Kettering's Laws

1. If you want to kill any idea in the world today, get a committee working on it.

2. If you have always done it that way, it is probably wrong.

Key to Status

S = D/K. S is the status of a person in an organization, D is the number of doors he must open to perform his job, and K is the number of keys he carries. A higher number denotes higher status. Thus the janitor needs to open 20 doors and has 20 keys (S = 1), a secretary has to open two doors with one key (S = 2), but the president never has to carry any keys since there is always someone around to open doors for him (with K = 0 and a high D, his S reaches infinity).

Keyes Rules of Misquotation

Axiom 1. Any quotation that can be altered will be.

· Corollary 1A: Vivid words hook misquotes in the mind.

· Corollary 1B: Numbers are hard to keep straight.

· Corollary 1C: Small changes can have a big impact (or: what a difference an a makes).

· Corollary 1D: If noted figures don't say what needs to be said, we'll say it for them.

· Corollary 1E: Journalists are a less than dependable source of accurate quotes.

· Corollary 1F: Famous dead people make excellent commentators on current events.

Axiom 2. Famous quotes need famous mouths.

· Corollary 2A: Well-known messengers get credit for clever comments they report from less celebrated mouths.

· Corollary 2B: Particularly quotable figures receive more than their share of quotable quotes.

· Corollary 2C: Comments made about someone might as well have been said by that person.

· Corollary 2D: Who you think said something may depend on where you live.

· Corollary 2E: Vintage quotes are considered to be in the public domain.

· Corollary 2F: In a pinch, any orphan quote can be called a Chinese proverb.

Kharasch's Institutional Imperative

Every action or decision of an institution must be intended to keep the institution machinery working.

Corollary - The expert judgment of an institution, when the matter involved concerns continuation of the institution's operations, is totally predictable, and hence the finding is totally worthless.

Kibitzer's Constant

When you can't discover the cause of a breakdown, all of the free advice you get will be for things you've already checked.

Kirkland's Law

The usefulness of any meeting is in inverse proportion to the attendance.

Kitman's Law

On the TV screen, pure drivel tends to drive off ordinary drivel.

Klipstein's Lament

All warranty and guarantee clauses are voided by payment of the invoice.

Klipstein's Law

Tolerances will accumulate unidirectionally toward maximum difficulty of assembly.

Klipstein's Law of Specifications

In specifications, Murphy's Law supersedes Ohm's.

Klipstein's Laws

Applied to General Engineering:

1. A patent application will be preceded by one week by a similar application made by an independent worker.

2. Firmness of delivery dates is inversely proportional to the tightness of the schedule.

3. Dimensions will always be expressed in the least usable term. Velocity, for example, will be expressed in furlongs per fortnight.

4. Any wire cut to length will be too short.

Applied to Prototyping and Production:

1. Tolerances will accumulate unidirectionally toward maximum difficulty to assemble.

2. If a project requires n components, there will be n-1 units in stock.

3. A motor will rotate in the wrong direction.

4. A failsafe circuit will destroy others.

5. A transistor protected by a fast-acting fuse will protect the fuse by blowing first.

6. A failure will not appear until a unit has passed final inspection.

7. A purchased component or instrument will meet its specs long enough, and only long enough, to pass incoming inspection.

8. After the last of 16 mounting screws has been removed from an access cover, it will be discovered that the wrong access cover has been removed.

9. After an access cover has been secured by 16 hold-down screws, it will be discovered that the gasket has been omitted.

10. After an instrument has been assembled, extra components will be found on the bench.

Klipstein's Observation

Any product cut to length will be too short.

Knight's Law

Life is what happens to you while you are making other plans.

Knoll's Law of Media Accuracy

Everything you read in the newspapers is absolutely true except for that rare story of which you happen to have firsthand knowledge.

Knowles's Law of Legislative Deliberation

The length of debate varies inversely with the complexity of the issue.

Corollary: When the issue is trivial, and everyone understands it, debate is almost interminable.

Kohn's Second Law

Any experiment is reproducible until another laboratory tries to repeat it.

Konrads Observations on Capitalism

1. There is no such thing as a "dirty capitalist", only a capitalist.

2. Capitalism can exist in one of only two states -- welfare or warfare. Anything is possible, but nothing is easy.

Koppett's Law

Whatever creates the greatest inconvenience for the largest number must happen.

Korman's conclusion

The trouble with resisting temptation is it may never come your way again.

Kovac's Conundrum

When you dial a wrong number, you never get a busy siginal.

Kristol's Law

Being frustrated is disagreeable, but the real disasters in life begin when you get what you want.

Krueger's Observation

A taxpayer is someone who does not have to take a civil service exam in order to work for the government.


La Rochefoucauld's Law

It is more shameful to distrust one's friends than to be deceived by them.

Labor Law

A disagreeable law is its own reward.

First Law of Laboratory Work

Hot glass looks exactly the same as cold glass.

LaCombe's Rule of Percentages

The incidence of anything worthwhile is either 15-25 percent or 80-90 percent.

Corollary (Dudenhoefer) - An answer of 50 percent will suffice for the 40-60 range.

Lafayette's Reprisal

The squeaky wheel gets replaced.

Laird's Law

Toothache tends to start on Saturday night.

Lamb's law of car purchasing

If you buy your first new car in fifteen years, next years they will introduce a new model with twenty seven new features never seen on a car before and the introductory price of the car will be eleven hundred dollars less than you paid for yours.

Landlord's Dilemmas

1. The hot water heater pump that fails will only do so after 5:00 P.M. on Friday evening when every tenant in the building is having a dinner party.

2. The next day , the only supplier in town that stocks parts for the pump tells you that the widget needed to fix it is in a warehouse in Cleveland and the warehousemen there have been on strike for seventeen weeks.

3. You are forced to buy a second rate heater and pump [sold only as a package] for six hundred and fifty dollars, and have it installed by a plumber at double time rates on Sunday morning.

4. On Monday at 9:00:A.M. the strike is settled.

5. On Monday at 9:15:A.M. the hardware store owner calls and says he has found a box containing thirty seven widgets on a shelf in his back room and he will sell one to you at the old price of ten cents.

Langin's Law

If things were left to chance, they'd be better

Langsam's Second Law

Everything depends.

Lani's Principles of Economics

1. Taxes are not levied for the benefit of the taxed.

2. $100 placed at 7% interest compounded quarterly for 200 years will increase to more than $100,000,000 by which time it will be worth nothing.

3. In God we trust; all others pay cash.

Larkinson's Law

All laws are basically false.

Larrimer's Constant

What this world needs is a damned good plague.

Larsen's Observations

1. Asking dumb questions. Is easier than correcting dumb mistakes.

2. He who hesitates is probably right.

3. When all else fails try the boss's suggestions.

Las Vegas's Axioms

1. It is morally wrong to allow suckers to keep their money

2. A Smith and Wesson beats a royal flush.

The Last Law

If several things that could have gone wrong did not go wrong, it would ultimately have been better if they had gone wrong.

de la Lastra's Law

After the last of 16 mounting screws has been removed from an access cover, it will be discovered that the wrong access cover has been removed.

de la Lastra's Corollary

After an access cover has been secured by 16 hold-down screws, it will be discovered that the gasket has been omitted.

Law of Late-Comer

Those who have the shortest distance to travel invariably arrive latest.

Law of Late-Comers

Those who have the shortest distance to travel invariably arrive latest.

Laura's Law

No child throws up in the bathroom.

Law of Lawmaking

Those who express random thoughts to legislative committees are often surprised and appalled to find themselves the instigators of law.

Laws of Applied Confusion

1. The one piece that the plant forgot to ship is the one that supports 75% of the balance of the shipment. Corollary - Not only did the plant forget to ship it, 50% of the time they haven't even made it.

2. Truck deliveries that normally take one day will take five when you are waiting for the truck.

3. After adding two weeks to the schedule for unexpected delays, add two more for the unexpected, unexpected delays.

4. In any structure, pick out the one piece that should not be mismarked and expect the plant to cross you up.


1. In any group of pieces with the same erection mark on it, one should not have that mark on it.

2. It will not be discovered until you try to put it where the mark says it's supposed to go.

3. Never argue with the fabricating plant about an error. The inspection prints are all checked off, even to the holes that aren't there.

Laws of Computability as Applied to Social Science

1. Any system or program, however complicated, if looked at in exactly the right way, will become even more complicated.

2. If at first you don't succeed, transform your data set.

Laws of Dormitory Life

1. The amount of trash accumulated within the space occupied is exponentially proportional to the number of living bodies that enter and leave within any given amount of time.

2. Since no matter can be created or destroyed (excluding nuclear and cafeteria substances), as one attempts to remove unwanted material (i.e., trash) from one's living space, the remaining material mutates so as to occupy 30 to 50 percent more than its original volume. Corollary - Dust breeds.

3. The odds are 6:5 that if one has late classes, one's roommate will have the EARLIEST possible classes. Corollary 1: One's roommate (who has early classes) has an alarm clock that is louder than God's own. Corollary 2: When one has an early class, one's roommate will invariably enter the space late at night and suddenly become hyperactive, ill, violent, or all three.

Laws of Fashion and Fads

1. Indecent 10 years before its time,

2. Daring 1 year before its time,

3. Chic in its time,

4. Dowdy 3 years after its time,

5. Hideous 20 years after its time,

6. Amusing 30 years after its time,

7. Romantic 100 years after its time,

8. Beautiful 150 years after its time.

Laws of Gardening

1. Other people's tools work only in other people's yards.

2. Fancy gizmos don't work.

3. If nobody uses it, there's a reason.

4. You get the most of what you need the least.

Laws of Government

1. If anything can go wrong, it will do so, in triplicate.

2. Things go right so they can go wrong.

3. Men and nations will act responsibly when all other possibilities have been exhausted.

4. Life liberty or property are not safe while the legislature is in session.

Laws of Institutional Food

1. Everything is cold except what should be.

2. Everything, including the corn flakes, is greasy.

Laws of Procrastination

1. Procrastination shortens the job and places the responsibility for its termination on someone else (the authority who imposed the deadline).

2. It reduces anxiety by reducing the expected quality of the project from the best of all possible efforts to the best that can be expected given the limited time.

3. Status is gained in the eyes of others, and in one's own eyes, because it is assumed that the importance of the work justifies the stress.

4. Avoidance of interruptions including the assignment of other duties can be achieved, so that the obviously stressed worker can concentrate on the single effort.

5. Procrastination avoids boredom; one never has the feeling that there is nothing important to do.

6. It may eliminate the job if the need passes before the job can be done.

Laws of Revision

1. The more innocuous the modification appears to be, the further its influence will extend and the more plans will have to be redrawn.

2. If, when completion of a design is imminent, field dimensions are finally supplied as they actually are, instead of as they were meant to be, it will be easier to start all over.

3. After painstaking and careful analysis of a sample, you are always told that it is the wrong sample and doesn't apply to the problem. Corollary - It is usually impractical to worry beforehand about interferences -- if you have none, someone will make one for you.

Laws of Serendipity

1. In order to discover anything you must be looking for something.

2. If you wish to make an improved product, you must already be engaged in making an inferior one.

Laws of Telephone Dynamics

1. The phone call you've been waiting for comes the minute you close and lock the door and start walking downstairs or when you have just comfortably immersed your entire body in a tub full of water.

2. Whomever you call will always have just left for the day, one minute ago.

3. You never get a busy signal when you dial a wrong number .

Laws of the Frisbee

1. The most powerful force in the world is that of a disc straining to land under a car, just beyond reach. (The technical term for this force is "car suck".)

2. The higher the quality of a catch or the comment it receives, the greater the probability of a crummy return throw. ("Good catch. . . Bad throw.")

3. One must never precede any maneuver by a comment more predictive than, "Watch this!" (Keep 'em guessing.)

4. The higher the costs of hitting any object, the greater the certainty it will be struck. (Remember: The disk is positive; cops and old ladies are clearly negative.)

5. The best catches are never seen. ("Did you see that?" "See what?")

6. The greatest single aid to distance is for the disc to be going in a direction you did not want. (Wrong way = long way.)

7. The most powerful hex words in the sport are: "I really have this down -- watch." (Know it? Blow it!)

8. In any crowd of spectators at least one will suggest that razor blades could be attached to the disc. ("You could maim and kill with that thing.")

9. The greater your need to make a good catch, the greater the probability your partner will deliver his worst throw. (If you can't touch it, you can't trick it.)

10. The single most difficult move with a disc is to put it down. ("Just one more!")

Laws of Understanding

1. Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.

2. No matter what goes wrong, there is always somebody who knew it would.

Lawson's Paradox

The average woman would rather be beautiful than smart because the average man sees better than he thinks.

Lawyer's Rule

When the law is against you, argue the facts. When the facts are against you, argue the law. When both are against you, call the other lawyer names.

Le Chatelier's Law

If some stress is brought to bear on a system in equilibrium, the equilibrium is displaced in the direction which tends to undo the effect of the stress.

Le Pelley's Law

The bigger the man, the less likely he is to object to caricature.

Leahy's Law

If a thing is done wrong often enough, it becomes right.

Corollary - Volume is a defense to error.

Lee's Axioms

1. No books are lost by lending except those you particularly wanted to keep.

2. The book you buy today for $17.95 will come out tomorrow in paperback.

Lefty Gomez's Principle of Productive Procrastination

They can't hit it while I'm standing here holding it.

Lenin's Law

Whenever the cause of the people is entrusted to professors, it is lost.

Les Miserables Metalaw

All laws, whether good, bad, or indifferent, must be obeyed to the letter.

Levy's Eighth Law

No amount of genius can overcome a preoccupation with detail.

Levy's Laws of Research

1. To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism; to steal from many is research.

2. Nobody notices the big flaw in your research until a reporter for the most respected professional journal in your field arrives to interview you.

Levy's Laws of the Disillusionment of the True Liberal

1. Large numbers of things are determined, and therefore not subject to change.

2. Anticipated events never live up to expectations.

3. That segment of the community with which one has the greatest sympathy as a liberal inevitably turns out to be one of the most narrow-minded and bigoted segments of the community.

4. Always pray that your opposition be wicked. In wickedness there is a strong strain toward rationality. Therefore there is always the possibility, in theory, of handling the wicked by outthinking them.

Levy's Ten Laws of the Disillusionment of the True Liberal

1. Large numbers of things are determined, and therefore not subject to change.

2. Anticipated events never live up to expectations.

3. That segment of the community with which one has the greatest sympathy as a liberal inevitably turns out to be one of the most narrow-minded and bigoted segments of the community.

4. Always pray that your opposition be wicked. In wickedness there is a strong strain toward rationality. Therefore there is always the possibility, in theory, of handling the wicked by outthinking them. Corollary 1: Good intentions randomize behavior. Corollary 2: Good intentions are far more difficult to cope with than malicious intent. Corollary 3: If good intentions are combined with stupidity, it is impossible to outthink them. Corollary 4: Any discovery is more likely to be exploited by the wicked than applied by the virtuous.

5. In unanimity there is cowardice and uncritical thinking.

6. To have a sense of humor is to be a tragic figure.

7. To know thyself is the ultimate form of aggression.

8. No amount of genius can overcome a preoccupation with detail.

9. Only God can make a random selection.

10. Eternal boredom is the price of constant vigilance.

Lewis's Laws

1. People will buy anything that's one to a customer.

2. No matter how long or how hard you shop for an item, after you've bought it it will be on sale somewhere cheaper.

Law of Libraries

No matter which book you need, it's on the bottom shelf.

Law of The Lie

No matter how often the lie is shown to be false, there will still remain a percentage of people who believe it to be true.

Liebermann's Law

Everybody lies; but it doesn't matter since nobody listens.

Liebling's Law

If you just try long enough and hard enough, you can always manage to boot yourself in the posterior.

Lilly's Megalaw

All laws are simulations of reality.

Lilly's Metalaw

All laws are simulations of reality.

Law of living

As soon as you're doing what you wanted to be doing, you want to be doing something else.

Lloyd-Jones's Law of Leftovers

The amount of litter on the street is proportional to the local rate of unemployment.

Law of Local Anesthesia

Never say "oops" in the operating room.

Locksmith's Dilemma

The probability of having someone close the safe and spin the dial while you have the back of the lock off will vary directly with the square of the number of people you tell not to touch the safe while you get something out of the truck.

Loehmann on Loss

1. If we lose much by having things go wrong, take all possible care.

2. If we have nothing to lose by change, relax.

3. If we have everything to gain by change, relax.

4. If it doesn't matter, it does not matter.

Loman's law of product design

If you can't fix it, feature it.

Long's Notes

1. Always store beer in a dark place.

2. Certainly the game is rigged. Don't let that stop you; if you don't bet, you can't win.

3. Any priest or shaman must be presumed guilty until proved innocent.

4. Always listen to experts. They'll tell you what can't be done, and why. Then do it.

5. If it can't be expressed in figures, it is not science; it is opinion.

6. It has long been known that one horse can run faster than another -- but which one? Differences are crucial.

7. A fake fortuneteller can be tolerated. But an authentic soothsayer should be shot on sight. Cassandra did not get half the kicking around she deserved.

8. Delusions are often functional. A mother's opinions about her children's beauty, intelligence, goodness, et cetera ad nauseam, keep her from drowning them at birth.

9. A generation which ignores history has no past -- and no future.

10. A poet who reads his verse in public may have other nasty habits.

11. Small change can often be found under seat cushions.

12. History does not record anywhere at any time a religion that has any rational basis. Religion is a crutch for people not strong enough to stand up to the unknown without help. But, like dandruff, most people do have a religion and spend time and money on it and seem to derive considerable pleasure from fiddling with it.

13. It's amazing how much "mature wisdom" resembles being too tired.

14. Of all the strange "crimes" that human beings have legislated out of nothing, "blasphemy" is the most amazing -- with "obscenity" and "indecent exposure" fighting it out for second and third place.

15. It's better to copulate than never.

16. Everything in excess! To enjoy the flavor of life, take big bites. Moderation is for monks.

17. It may be better to be a live jackal than a dead lion, but it is better still to be a live lion. And usually easier.

18. Never appeal to a man's "better nature". He may not have one. Invoking his self-interest gives you more leverage.

19. Little girls, like butterflies, need no excuse.

20. Avoid making irrevocable decisions while tired or hungry.

21. An elephant: A mouse built to government specifications.

22. A zygote is a gamete's way of producing more gametes. This may be the purpose of the universe.

23. Stupidity cannot be cured with money, or through education, or by legislation. Stupidity is not a sin; the victim can't help being stupid. But stupidity is the only universal capital crime; the sentence is death, there is no appeal, and execution is carried out automatically and without pity.

24. God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent. It says so right here on the label. If you have a mind capable of believing all three of these divine attributes simultaneously, I have a wonderful bargain for you. No checks, please. Cash and in small bills.

25. Beware of altruism. It is based on self-deception, the root of all evil.

26. The most preposterous notion that H. sapiens has ever dreamed up is that the Lord God of Creation, Shaper and Ruler of all the Universe, wants the saccharine adoration of His creatures, can be swayed by their prayers, and becomes petulant if He does not receive this flattery. Yet this absurd fantasy, without a shred of evidence to bolster it, pays all the expenses of the oldest, largest, and least productive industry in all history.

27. The second most preposterous notion is that copulation is inherently sinful.

28. Everybody lies about sex.

29. Rub her feet.

30. Never underestimate the power of human stupidity.

31. Always tell her she is beautiful, especially if she is not.

32. In a family argument, if it turns out you are right, apologize at once.

33. To stay young requires unceasing cultivation of the ability to unlearn old falsehoods.

34. Does history record any case in which the majority was right?

35. Secrecy is the beginning of tyranny.

36. The greatest productive force is human selfishness.

37. Be wary of strong drink. It can make you shoot at tax collectors -- and miss.

38. Expertise in one field does not carry over into other fields. But experts often think so. The narrower their field of knowledge the more likely they are to think so.

39. Never try to outstubborn a cat.

40. Tilting at windmills hurts you more than the windmills.

41. Yield to temptation; it may not pass your way again.

42. Waking a person unnecessarily should not be considered a capital crime. For a first offense, that is.

43. The correct way to punctuate a sentence that starts: "Of course it's none of my business, but... " is to place a period after the word "but". Don't use excessive force in supplying such a moron with a period. Cutting his throat is only a momentary pleasure and is bound to get you talked about.

44. A skunk is better company than a person who prides himself on being "frank".

45. Natural laws have no pity.

46. You can go wrong by being too skeptical as readily as by being too trusting.

47. Anything free is worth what you pay for it.

48. Climate is what we expect; weather is what we get.

49. Pessimist by policy, optimist by temperament -- it is possible to be both. How? By never taking an unnecessary chance and by minimizing risks you can't avoid. This permits you to play out the game happily, untroubled by the certainty of the outcome.

50. "I came, I saw, SHE conquered." (The original Latin seems to have been garbled.)

51. A committee is a life form with six or more legs and no brain.

52. Don't try to have the last word. You might get it.

(F)law of Long-Range Planning

The longer ahead you plan a special event, and the more special it is, the more likely it is to go wrong.

Lord Falkland's Rule

When it is not necessary to make a decision, it is necessary not to make a decision.

Los Angeles Dodgers Law

Wait till last year.

Law of the Lost Inch

In designing any type of construction, no overall dimension can be totalled correctly after 4:40 p.m. on Friday.


1. Under the same conditions, if any minor dimensions are given to sixteenths of an inch, they cannot be totalled at all.

2. The correct total will become self-evident at 9:01 a.m. on Monday.

Louie's "IF" Rules

1. If it ain't no big deal, don't worry about it.

2. If you can't do anything about it, don't worry about it.

3. If it's someone else's problem, don't worry about it.

4. If it's easily fixed, it don't matter whose fault it was.

5. If it's done it's done, if it can't be undone--don't worry about it.

6. If there's no damage, don't make a project out of it.

Law of Love

A dandelion from a lover means more than an orchid from a friend.

Low's First Law of Management

Some people manage by the book even though they don't know who wrote the book or even what book.

Lowry's Additional Lie

I've never done this before.

Lowrey's Law

If it jams -- force it. If it breaks, it needed replacing anyway.

Lowrey's Law of Expertis

Just when you get really good at something, you don't need to do it any more.

Lowrey's Law of Expertise

Just when you get really good at something, you don't need to do it any more.

Lubarsky's Law of Cybernetic Entomology

There's always one more bug.

Lubin's Law

If another scientist thought your research was more important than his, he would drop what he is doing and do what you are doing.

Luce's Law

No good deed goes unpunished.

Lucy Van Pelt's Observation

There must be one day above all others in each life that is the happiest.

Corollary - What if you've already had it?

Lucy's Laws

1. The alternative to getting old is depressing.

2. No good deed goes unpunished.

Luten's Laws

1. When properly administered, vacations do not diminish productivity: for every week you're away and get nothing done, there's another week when your boss is away and you get twice as much done.

2. It's not so hard to lift yourself by your bootstraps once you're off the ground.

Lyall's Conjecture

If a computer cable has one end, then it has another.

Lyall's Fundamental Observation

The most important leg of a three legged stool is the one that's missing.

Lydia's Axiom

Nothing is as temporary as that which is called permanent.

Corollary - Nothing is as permanent as that which is called temporary.

Lynch's Law

When the going gets tough, everybody leaves.

Lyndons principal

The light at the end of the tunnel is the headlamp of an oncoming train.

Lyon's Law of Hesitation

He who hesitates is last.


MacDonald's Second Law

Consultants are mystical people who ask a company for a number and give it back to them.

Macpherson's Theory of Entropy

It requires less energy to take an object out of it's proper place than to put it back.

Madison's Question

If you have to travel on a Titanic, why not go first-class?

Mae West's Observation

To err is human, but it feels terrific.

Mahr's Law of Restrained Involvement

Don't get any on you.

Maier's Law

If the facts do not conform to the theory, they must be disposed of.


1. The bigger the theory, the better.

2. The experiment may be considered a success if no more than 50% of the observed measurements must be discarded to obtain a correspondence with the theory. (Compensation Corollary)

Main's Law

For every action there is an equal and opposite government program.

Malek's Law

Any simple idea will be worded in the most complicated way.

Malinowski's Law

Looking from far above, from our high places of safety in the developed civilization, it is easy to see all the crudity and irrelevance of magic.

Malloy's Maxim

The fact that monkeys have hands should give us pause.

Management Truths

1. Think before you act; it's not your money.

2. All good management is the expression of one great idea.

3. No executive devotes effort to proving himself wrong.

4. Cash in must exceed cash out.

5. Management capability is always less than the organization actually needs.

6. Either an executive can do his job or he can't.

7. If sophisticated calculations are needed to justify an action, don't do it.

8. If you are doing something wrong, you will do it badly.

9. If you are attempting the impossible, you will fail.

10. The easiest way of making money is to stop losing it.

11. Organizations always have too many managers.

Manley's Maxim

Logic is a systematic method of coming to the wrong conclusion with confidence.

Margaret Mead's Law of Human Migration

At least fifty percent of the human race doesn't want their mother-in-law within walking distance.

Mark Miller's Exception to Crane's Law

There are no "free lunches", but sometimes it costs more to collect money than to give away food.

Mark's mark

Love is a matter of chemistry; sex is a matter of physics.

Mark's Observation

Love is a matter of chemistry; sex is a matter of physics.

Marshall's Generalized Iceberg Theorem

Seven eighths of everything can't be seen.

Marshall's Universal Laws of Perpetual Perceptual Obfuscation

1. Nobody perceives anything with total accuracy.

2. No two people perceive the same thing identically.

3. Few perceive what difference it makes -- or care.

Martha's Maxim

If God had meant for us to travel tourist class, He would have made us narrower.

Martin's Exclusion

Committee reports dealing with wages, salaries, fringe benefits, facilities, computers, employee parking, libraries, coffee breaks, secretarial support, etc., always call for dramatic expenditure increases.

Martin's Law of Committees

All committee reports conclude that "it is not prudent to change the policy (or procedure, or organization, or whatever) at this time."

Martin's Exclusion: Committee reports dealing with wages, salaries, fringe benefits, facilities, computers, employee parking, libraries, coffee breaks, secretarial support, etc., always call for dramatic expenditure increases.

Martin's Law of Communication

The inevitable result of improved and enlarged communication between different levels in a hierarchy is a vastly increased area of misunderstanding.

Martin's Laws of Academia

1. The faculty expands its activity to fit whatever space is available, so that more space is always required.

2. Faculty purchases of equipment and supplies always increase to match the funds available, so these funds are never adequate.

3. The professional quality of the faculty tends to be inversely proportional to the importance it attaches to space and equipment.

Martin's Minimax Maxim

Everyone knows that the name of the game is to let the other guy have all of the little tats and to keep all of the big tits for yourself.

Martin's Principle of Design Inertia

Any change looks terrible at first.

Martin-Berthelot Principle

Of all possible committee reactions to any given agenda item, the reaction that will occur is the one which will liberate the greatest amount of hot air.

Mason's First Law of Synergism

The one day you'd sell your soul forsomething, souls are a glut.

Mason's Law of Gastro Intestinal Disorders

If your stomach only occasionally growls it will happen on the first date with a beautiful woman you have been trying to get to go out with you for five months.

Matsch's Law

It is better to have a horrible ending than to have horrors without end.

Matsch's Maxim

A fool in a high station is like a man on the top of a small mountain: everything appears small to him and he appears small to everybody.

Matz's Warning

Beware of the physician who is great at getting out of trouble.

Maugham's Thought

Only a mediocre person is always at his best.

First Maxim of Computers

To err is human, but to really screw things up requires a computer.

May's Law

The quality of the correlation is inversely proportional to the density of the control (the fewer the facts, the smoother the curves).

May's Mordant Maxim

A university is a place where men of principle outnumber men of honor.

Maytag's Rule

Washing machines only break down during the wash cycle when they are full of water.

McCarthy's Law

Being in politics is like being a football coach. You have to be smart enough to understand the game and dumb enough to think it's important.

McClaughry's Law of Public Policy

Politicians who vote huge expenditures to alleviate problems get re-elected; those who propose structural changes to prevent problems get early retirement.

McClaughry's Law of Zoning

Where zoning is not needed, it will work perfectly; where it is desperately needed, it always breaks down.

McDonald's Second Law

Consultants are mystical people who ask a company for a number and give it back to them.

McGoon's Law

The probability of winning is inversely proportional to the amount of the wager.

McGovern's Law

The longer the title, the less important the job.

McGregor's Revised Maxim

The shortest distance between two points is under construction.

McGurk's Law

Any improbable event which would create maximum confusion if it did occur, will occur.

McIllvenna's Theory of Wrongness

1. If anything can go wrong, it will.

2. If anything just cannot go wrong, it will anyway.

3. If anything simply cannot go wrong, it will anyway.

4. If there is a worse time for something to go wrong, it will happen then.

5. If everything is coming your way, you're in the wrong lane.

6. If everything seems to be going well, you have obviously overlooked something.

7. If everything seems to be going well, you obviously don't know what's going on.

8. If there is a possibility of several things going wrong, the one that will cause the most damage will be the one to go wrong.

McKenna's Law

When you are right, be logical. When you are wrong, be-fuddle.

McLaughlin's Law

The length of any meeting is inversely proportional to the length of the agenda for that meeting.

McLean's Maxim

There are only two problems with people. One is that they don't think. The other is that they do.

McNaughton's Rule

Any argument worth making within the bureaucracy must be capable of being expressed in a simple declarative sentence that is obviously true once stated.

Melcher's Law

In a bureaucracy, every routing slip will expand until it contains the maximum number of names that can be typed in a single vertical column.

Mencken's Law

Those who can- do. Those who cannot- teach. Those who cannot teach- administrate.

Mencken's Metalaw

For every human problem, there is a neat, simple solution; and it is always wrong.

Law of mental health

If you're feeling good, don't worry, you'll get over it.

Merkin's Maxim

When in doubt, predict that the present trend will continue.

Merrill's Corollaries

1. There are no winners in life; only survivors.

2. In the highway of life, the average happening is of about as much true significance as a dead skunk in the middle of the road.

Merrill's Laws of Scholarship

1. Never let your major professor know that you exist.

2. The final exam will be based entirely on the one lecture you missed about the book you didn't read.

3. The more studying you did for the exam, the less sure you are as to which answer they want.

4. When you are occasionally able to schedule two classes in a row, they will be held in classrooms at opposite ends of the campus.

Meskimen's Laws

1. When they want it bad (in a rush), they get it bad.

2. There's never time to do it right, but always time to do it over.

Mesta's Law of Parties

Those who live closest arrive last.

Meteorological Law

As soon as the stewardess serves coffee, the airliner encounters turbulence.

Scientific Explanation

Serving coffee on an airliner causes turbulence.

Meyer's Law

In a social situation, that which is most difficult to do is usually the right thing to do.

Michehl's Theorem

Less is more.

Pastore's Comment on Michehl's Theorem

Nothing is ultimate.

Mickelson's Law of Falling Objects

Any object that is accidentally dropped will hide under a larger object.

Miksch's Law

If a string has one end, then it has another end.

Miller's Christmas Card Rule

After you've mailed your last card, you will receive a card from someone you've overlooked.

Miller's Law (Martin's Extension)

You can't tell how deep a puddle is until you step into it.

Mills's Law of Transportation Logistics

The distance to the gate from which your flight departs is inversely proportional to the time remaining before the scheduled departure of the flight.

Corollaries (Woods):

1. This remains true even as you rush to catch the flight.

2. From this it follows that you are invariably rushing the wrong way.

Miscellaneous Pessimistic Musings

1. The chance of a piece of bread falling down with the buttered side down is directly proportional to the cost of the carpet.

2. Friends come and go, but enemies accumulate.

3. No matter how long or hard you shop for an item, after you've bought it, it will be on sale somewhere else cheaper.

4. Nature always sides with the hidden flaw.

5. Whatever plan one makes, there is a hidden difficulty somewhere.

6. If you do not understand a particular word in a piece of technical writing, ignore it. The piece will make perfect sense without it.

7. eware the day in which you don't have something to bitch about.

8. If it looks easy it's tough. If it looks tough it's damn well impossible.

9. Complex problems have simple, easy-to-understand, wrong answers.

10. If everything is coming your way, you're in the wrong lane.

11. There is nothing so small that it can't be blown out of proportion.

12. If you're feeling good, don't worry. You'll get over it.

13. If people listened to themselves more often, they would talk less.

MITS Law (Man In The Street)

The number of people watching you is directly proportional to the stupidity of your action.

Mobil's Maxim

Bad regulation begets worse regulation.

Moer's Truism

The trouble with most jobs is the resemblance to being in a sled dog team: No one gets a change of scenery, except the lead dog.

Money Maxim

Money isn't everything. (It isn't plentiful, for instance.)

Montagu's Maxim

The idea is to die young as late as possible.

Montgomery's Maxim

If at first you don't succeed read the manual.

More of Murphy's Laws

Here is no limit to how bad things can get. There is no job so simple that it cannot be done wrong.

Morley's Conclusion

No man is lonely while eating spaghetti.

Morley's Conclusion

No man is lonely while eating spaghetti.

Morner's Rule of Thumb

Experience varies directly with equipment ruined.

Morton's Law

If rats are experimented upon, they will develop cancer. ("What this country needs are some stronger white rats.")

Mosher's Law

It's better to retire too soon than too late.

Mother Sigafoos's Observation

A man should be greater than some of his parts.

Mother's Laws

1. You can't fall off the floor. (it takes children three years to learn this law.)

2. A child will not spill on a dirty floor.

3. Any child who chatters non-stop at home will adamantly refuse to utter a word when requested to demonstrate for an audience.

4. An unbreakable toy is useful for breaking other toys.

Motor Vehicle Postulate

Eighty percent of all people consider themselves to be above-average drivers.

Motorist's Axioms

1. The driver in front of you wants to go five miles per hour slower than you.

2. When you're not in a hurry, the traffic light will turn green as soon as your vehicle comes to a complete stop.

3. You never really learn to swear until you learn to drive.

4. Your own car uses more gas and oil than anyone else's.

5. Four wheel drive just means getting stuck in more inaccessible places.

6. A short cut is the longest distance between two points.

Mr. Cole's Axiom

The sum of the intelligence on the planet is a constant; the population is growing.

Mr. Cooper's Law

If you do not understand a particular word in a piece of technical writing, ignore it. The piece will make perfect sense without it.

Mrs. Parkinson's Law

Heat produced by pressure expands to fill the mind available, from which it can pass only to a cooler mind.

Muir's Law

When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitchedto everything else in the universe.

Munnecke's Law

If you don't say it, they can't repeat it.

Munroes Observation

Common sense is not that common.

Murchison's Law of Money

Money is like manure. If you spread it around, it does a lot of good. But if you pile it up in one place, it stinks like hell.

The Murphy Philosophy

Smile, tomorrow will be worse.

Murphy's Constant

Matter will be damaged in direct proportion to its value.

Murphy's Corollaries

1. Murphy's Law may be delayed or suspended for an indefinite period of time, provided that such delay or suspension will result in a greater catastrophe at a later date.

2. The magnitude of the catastrophe is directly proportional to the number of people watching.

3. The magnitude of the catastrophe is exponentially proportional to the importance of the occasion.

4. If an outcome has a 50% chance of occurring, its actual probability of happening is inversely proportional to the desirability of the outcome.

5. If two corollaries of Murphy's Law contradict each other, the one with greater potential for damage takes precedence.

Murphy's Faux Pas

1. The intensity of an itch is proportional to the formality of the occasion.

2. Light clothing attracts dark-colored food spills; Dark clothing attracts light- colored food spills.

3. The probability that you forget somebody's name is directly proportional to the degree to which they would feel insulted.

4. Other people will not notice your subtle hints, no matter how hard you try.

5. You will not notice other people's subtle hints, no matter how hard they try.

Law of Murphy's Law

Murphy's law was not propounded by Murphy, but by another man with the same name.

Murphy's Law of Copiers

The legibility of a copy is inversely proportional to its importance.

Murphy's Law of Research

Enough research will tend to support your theory.

Murphy's Law of the Open Road

When there is a very long road upon which there is a one-way bridge placed at random, and there are only two cars on that road, it follows that: (1) the two cars are going in opposite directions, and (2) they will always meet at the bridge.

Murphy's Law of Thermodynamics

Things get worse under pressure.

Murphy's Restatement

Everything goes wrong all at once.

Murray's Consumer Axioms

1. Never ask a barber if you need a haircut.

2. Never ask a salesman if his is a good price.

3. Always hire a rich attorney.

4. Never buy from a rich salesman.

Law of Museums

The most interesting specimen will not be labeled.

The First Myth of Management

It exists.

0 views0 comments


bottom of page