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Copy of Murphy's Laws dictionary A - D

Murphy's Laws A - D


Abbott's Admonitions

1. If you have to ask, you're not entitled to know.

2. If you don't like the answer, you shouldn't have asked the question.

Abrams's Advice

When eating an elephant, take one bite at a time.

Absolute Principal

Beauty is only skin deep, ugly goes to the bone.

Rule of Accuracy

When working toward the solution of a problem, it always helps if you know the answer.

Corollary - Provided, of course, that you know there is a problem.

Acheson's Rule of the Bureaucracy

A memorandum is written not to inform the reader but to protect the writer.

Acton's Law

Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Ade's Law

Anybody can win -- unless there happens to be a second entry.

Law of Adult Opportunity

Opportunity always knocks at the least appropriate moment.

Advanced Systems News Letter

The nail that sticks up gets hammered down.

Agnes Allen's Law

Almost anything is easier to get into than out of.

Airplane Law

When the plane you are on is late, the plane you want to transfer to is on time.

Law of Airports

The distance to the gate is inversely proportional to the time available to catch the flight.

Alan's Law of Research

The theory is supported as long as the funds are.

Albrecht's Law

Social innovations tend to the level of minimum tolerable well being.

Alfred's Law of NIMBY'ism [Not in my back yard]

The guy holding the biggest sign demanding that the freeway be torn down moved in six years after it was constructed.

Law of Algebra

You never catch on until after the test.

Algren's Precepts

Never eat at a place called Mom's. Never play cards with a man named Doc. And never lie down with a woman who's got more troubles than you.

Law of Alienation

Nothing can so alienate a voter from the political system as backing a winning candidate.

Alinsky's Rule For Radicals

Those who are most moral are farthest from the problem.

Allen's Axiom

When all else fails, follow instructions.

Allen's Biblical Distinction (Allen's Distinction)

The lion and the lamb shall lie down together, but the lamb won' t get much sleep.

Allen's Law

Almost anything is easier to get into than out of.

Allen's Law of Civilization

It is better for civilization to be going down the drain than to be coming up it.

Alley's Axiom

Justice always prevails... three times out of seven.

Alligator Allegory

The objective of all dedicated product support employees should be to thoroughly analyze all situations, anticipate all problems prior to their occurrence, have answers for these problems, and move swiftly to solve these problems when called upon. However, when you are up to your ass in alligators, it is difficult to remind yourself that your initial objective was to drain the swamp.

Alligator Principle

When you are up to your ass in alligators, it is difficult to remind yourself that your initial objective was to drain the swamp.

Allison's Precept

The best simple-minded test of expertise in a particular area is the ability to win money in a series of bets on future occurrences in that area.

Law of Ambition

At any one time, thousands of borough councilmen, school board members, attorneys, and businessmen -- as well as congressmen, senators, and governors -- are dreaming of the White House, but few, if any of them, will make it.

Anderson's Law

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

Andrew's Canoeing Postulate

No matter which direction you start, it's always against the wind coming back.

Law of Annoyance

When working on a project, if you put away a tool that you're certain you're finished with, you will need it instantly.

Anthony's Law of Force

Don't force it, get a larger hammer.

Anthony's Law of the Workshop

Any tool, when dropped, will roll into the least accessible corner of the workshop. Corollary - On the way to the corner, any dropped tool will first and always strike your toes.

Approval Seeker's Law

Those whose approval you seek the most give you the least.

The Aquinas Axiom

What the gods get away with, the cows don't.

The Arithmetic of Cooperation

When you're adding up committees there's a useful rule of thumb: that talents make a difference, and follies make a sum.

Army Axiom

Any order that can be misunderstood has been misunderstood.

Army Law

If it moves, salute it; if it doesn't move, pick it up; if you can't pick it up, paint it.

Arnold's First Law of Documentation

If it should exist, it doesn't.

Arnold's Second Law of Documentation

If it does exist, it's out of date.

Arnold's Third Law of Documentation

Only useless documentation transcends the first two laws.

Ashleigh's First Law

If you can't learn to do it well, you should learn to enjoy doing it badly.

Ashley-Perry Statistical Axioms

1. Numbers are tools, not rules.

2. Numbers are symbols for things; the number and the thing are not the same.

3. Skill in manipulating numbers is a talent, not evidence of divine guidance.

4. Like other occult techniques of divination, the statistical method has a private jargon deliberately contrived to obscure its methods from nonpractitioners.

5. The product of an arithmetical computation is the answer to an equation; it is not the solution to a problem.

6. Arithmetical proofs of theorems that do not have arithmetical bases prove nothing.

Law of Assembly

Interchangeable parts won't.

Astrology Law

It's always the wrong time of the month.

Atlas's Laws of Medical Research

· Successful research attracts the bigger grant which makes further research impossible.

· The progress of science varies inversely with the number of journals published.

Attila's Instruction

Always remember to pillage before you burn.

Attorneys Operating Principle

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

Atwoods Corollary

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

Law of Attraction

Power attracts people but it cannot hold them.

Avery's Observation

It does not matter if you fall down as long as you pick up something from the floor while you get up.

Avery's Rule of Three

Trouble strikes in series of threes, but when working around the house the next job after a series of three is not the fourth job -- it's the start of a brand new series of three.

Avian Law

A bird in the hand is safer than one overhead.

Axiom of Promotions

What gets you promoted on one level will get you fired on another.

Axiom of the Pipe. (Trischmann's Paradox)

A pipe gives a wise man time to think and a fool something to stick in his mouth.


Babcock's Law

If it can be borrowed and it can be broken, you will borrow it and you will break it.

Baer's Quartet

What's good politics is bad economics; what's bad politics is good economics; what's good economics is bad politics; what's bad economics is good politics.

Bagdikian's Law of Editor's Speeches

The splendor of an editor's speech and the splendor of his newspaper are inversely related to the distance between the city in which he makes his speech and the city in which he publishes his paper.

Baker's Byroad

When you are over the hill, you pick up speed.

Baker's Law

Misery no longer loves company. Nowadays it insists on it.

Baldy's Law

Some of it plus the rest of it is all of it.

The Banana Principle

If you buy bananas or avocados before they are ripe, there won't be any left by the time they are ripe. If you buy them ripe, they rot before they are eaten.

Bankers Axiom

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

Bankers Lament

Nothing in the known universe travels faster than a bad check

Law of Banks

The other line always moves faster. In order to get a loan you must first prove that you don't need it.

Barber's Laws of Backpacking

1. The integral of the gravitational potential taken around any loop trail you choose to hike always comes out positive.

2. Any stone in your boot always migrates against the pressure gradient to exactly the point of most pressure.

3. The weight of your pack increases in direct proportion to the amount of food you consume from it. If you run out of food, the pack weight goes on increasing anyway.

4. The number of stones in your boot is directly proportional to the number of hours you have been on the trail.

5. The difficulty of finding any given trail marker is directly proportional to the importance of the consequences of failing to find it.

6. The size of each of the stones in your boot is directly proportional to the number of hours you have been on the trail.

7. The remaining distance to your chosen campsite remains constant as twilight approaches.

8. The net weight of your boots is proportional to the cube of the number of hours you have been on the trail.

9. When you arrive at your chosen campsite, it is full.

10. If you take your boots off, you'll never get them back on again.

11. The local density of mosquitos is inversely proportional to your remaining repellent.

Barr's Comment on Domestic Tranquillity

On a beautiful day like this it's hard to believe anyone can be unhappy -- but we'll work on it.

Barrett's Laws of Driving

1. You can get ANYWHERE in ten minutes if you go fast enough.

2. Speed bumps are of negligible effect when the vehicle exceeds triple the desired restraining speed.

3. The vehicle in front of you is traveling slower than you are.

4. This lane ends in 500 feet.

Barth's Distinction (Benchley's Law of Distinction)

There are two classes of people: those who divide people into two classes, and those who don't.

Bartz's Law of Hokey Horsepuckery

The more ridiculous a belief system, the higher the probability of its success.

Baruch's Observation

If all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.

Baruch's Rule for Determining Old Age

Old age is always fifteen years older than I am.

Barzun's Laws of Learning

1. The simple but difficult arts of paying attention, copying accurately, following an argument, detecting an ambiguity or a false inference, testing guesses by summoning up contrary instances, organizing one's time and one's thought for study - all these arts - cannot be taught in the air but only through the difficulties of a defined subject. They cannot be taught in one course or one year, but must be acquired gradually in dozens of connections.

2. The analogy to athletics must be pressed until all recognize that in the exercise of Intellect those who lack the muscles, coordination, and will power can claim no place at the training table, let alone on the playing field.

Forthoffer's Cynical Summary of Barzun's Laws

1. That which has not yet been taught directly can never be taught directly.

2. If at first you don't succeed, you will never succeed.

Basic Baggage Principle

Whichever carousel you stand near, your baggage will arrive on another one.

Law of Basic Money Dynamics

A surprise monetary windfall will be accompanied by an unexpected expense of the same amount.

Baxter's First Law (Baxter's Free Market Laws)

Government intervention in the free market always leads to a lower national standard of living.

Baxter's Second Law

The adoption of fractional gold reserves in a currency system always leads to depreciation, devaluation, demonetization and, ultimately, to complete destruction of that currency.

Baxter's Third Law

In a free market good money always drives bad money out of circulation.

Beard's addendum to interstate travel

The palatability index of any food is inversely proportional to the distance and number of times the restaurant advertises prior to the designated stop.

Beardsley's Warning to Lawyers

Beware of and eschew pompous prolixity.

Beauregard's First Law

When you're up to your nose in it, keep your mouth shut.

Beauregard's Second Law

All people are cremated equal.

Becker's Law

It is much harder to find a job than to keep one.

Beckhap's Law

Beauty times brains equals a constant.

Beifeld's Principle

The probability of a young man meeting a desirable and receptive young female increases by pyramidal progression when he is already in the company of (1) a date, (2) his wife, and (3) a better looking and richer male friend.

Belle's Constant

The ratio of time involved in work to time available for work is usually about 0.6.

Benchley's Distinction

There are two types of people: those who divide people into two types, and those who don't.

Benchley's Law

Anyone can do any amount of work, provided it isn't the work he is supposed to be doing at that moment.

Berkeley's Laws

1. The world is more complicated than most of our theories make it out to be.

2. Ignorance is no excuse.

3. Never decide to buy something while listening to the salesman.

4. Information which is true meets a great many different tests very well.

5. Most problems have either many answers or no answer. Only a few problems have a single answer.

6. An answer may be wrong, right, both, or neither. Most answers are partly right and partly wrong.

7. A chain of reasoning is no stronger than its weakest link.

8. A statement may be true independently of illogical reasoning.

9. Most general statements are false, including this one.

10. An exception TESTS a rule; it NEVER PROVES it.

11. The moment you have worked out an answer, start checking it -- it probably isn't right.

12. If there is an opportunity to make a mistake, sooner or later the mistake will be made.

13. Being sure mistakes will occur is a good frame of mind for catching them.

14. Check the answer you have worked out once more -- before you tell it to anybody.

15. Estimating a figure may be enough to catch an error.

16. Figures calculated in a rush are very hot; they should be allowed to cool off a little before being used; thus we will have a reasonable time to think about the figures and catch mistakes.

17. A great many problems do not have accurate answers, but do have approximate answers, from which sensible decisions can be made.

Bernstein's First Law

Buttered bread tends to fall with the buttered side down.

Bernstein's Second Law

A falling body always rolls to the most inaccessible spot.

Berra's Law

You can observe a lot just by watching.

Berson's Corollary of Inverse Distances

The farther away from the entrance that you have to park, the closer the space vacated by the car that pulls away as you walk up to the door.

Bicycle Law

All bicycles weigh 50 pounds:

A 30-pound bicycle needs a 20-pound lock and chain.

A 40-pound bicycle needs a 10-pound lock and chain.

A 50-pound bicycle needs no lock or chain.

First Law of Bicycling

No matter which way you ride, it's uphill and against the wind.

The Billings Phenomenon

The conclusions of most good operations research studies are obvious.

Billings's Law

Live within your income, even if you have to borrow to do so.

Blanchard's Newspaper Obituary Law

If you want your name spelled wrong, die.

Blauw's Law

Established technology tends to persist in spite of new technology.

Law of Blissful Ignorance

What you don't know will always hurt you.

Bok's Law

If you think education is expensive -- try ignorance.

Boling's Postulate

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

Bolton's Law of Ascending Budgets

Under current practices, both expenditures and revenues rise to meet each other, no matter which one may be in excess.

Bombeck's Rule of Medicine

Never go to a doctor whose office plants have died.

Bonafede's Revelation

The conventional wisdom is that power is an aphrodisiac. In truth, it's exhausting.

Boob's Law

You always find something in the last place you look.

Booker's Law

An ounce of application is worth a ton of abstraction.

Boozer's Revision

A bird in the hand is dead.

Boren's Laws of the Bureaucracy

1. When in doubt, mumble.

2. When in trouble, delegate.

3. When in charge, ponder.

Borkowski's Law

You can't guard against the arbitrary.

Borstelmann's Rule

If everything seems to be coming your way, you're probably in the wrong lane.

Boston's Irreversible Law of Clutter

In any household, junk accumulates to fill the space available for its storage.

Boultbee's Criterion

If the converse of a statement is absurd, the original statement is an insult to the intelligence and should never have been said.

Bove's Theorem

The remaining work to finish in order to reach your goal increases as the deadline approaches.

Boyle's Laws

1. The success of any venture will be helped by prayer, even in the wrong denomination.

2. When things are going well, someone will inevitably experiment detrimentally.

3. The deficiency will never show itself during the dry runs.

4. Information travels more surely to those with a lesser need to know.

5. An original idea can never emerge from committee in the original.

6. When the product is destined to fail, the delivery system will perform perfectly.

7. The crucial memorandum will be snared in the out-basket by the paper clip of the overlying correspondence and go to file.

8. Success can be insured only by devising a defense against failure of the contingency plan.

9. Performance is directly affected by the perversity of inanimate objects.

10. If not controlled, work will flow to the competent man until he submerges.

11. The lagging activity in a project will invariably be found in the area where the highest overtime rates lie waiting.

12. Talent in staff work or sales will recurringly be interpreted as managerial ability.

13. The "think positive" leader tends to listen to his subordinates' premonitions only during the postmortems.

14. Clearly stated instructions will consistently produce multiple interpretations.

15. On successive charts of the same organization the number of boxes will never decrease.

Boyle's Observation

A welfare state is one that assumes responsibility for the health, happiness, and general well

being of all its citizens except the taxpayers.

Boyle's Other Law

The first pull on the cord ALWAYS sends the drapes in the wrong direction.

Branch's First Law of Crisis

The spirit of public service will rise, and the bureaucracy will multiply itself much faster, in time of grave national concern.

First Law of Bridge

It's always the partner's fault.

Brien's First Law

At some time in the life cycle of virtually every organization, its ability to succeed in spite of itself runs out.

Brigg's Law of Traffic

At any level of traffic, any delay is intolerable.

Brinks's Observation

No armored car loaded with bags of money ever turned over and spilled its load in the street, in a good neighborhood.

Broder's Law

Anybody that wants the presidency so much that he'll spend two years organizing and campaigning for it is not to be trusted with the office.

Brontosaurus Principle

Organizations can grow faster than their brains can manage them in relation to their environment and to their own physiology; when this occurs, they are an endangered species.

Brook's Laws

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

· Adding manpower to late software makes it later.

Brooks' First Law

Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later.

Brooks' Second Law

Whenever a system becomes completely defined, someone discovers something which either abolishes the system or expands it beyond recognition.

(Jerry) Brown's Law

Too often I find that the volume of paper expands to fill the available briefcases.

(Sam) Brown's Law

Never offend people with style when you can offend them with substance.

(Tony) Brown's Law of Business Success

Our customer's paperwork is profit. Our own paperwork is loss.

Brownian Motion Rule of Bureaucracies

It is impossible to distinguish, from a distance, whether the bureaucrats associated with your project are simply sitting on their hands, or frantically trying to cover their asses.

Heisenberg's Addendum to Brownian Bureaucracy: If you observe a bureaucrat closely enough to make the distinction above, he will react to your observation by covering his ass.

Bruce-Briggs's Law of Traffic

At any level of traffic, any delay is intolerable.

Bryson's Law of Repairs

1. Anything you try to fix will take longer and cost more than you thought.

2. If you fool around with a thing for very long you will screw it up.

Buchwald's Law

As the economy gets better, everything else gets worse.

Bucy's Law

Nothing is ever accomplished by a reasonable man.

The Bumper To Bumper Theorem

Traffic congestion increases in proportion to the length of time the street is supervised by a traffic control officer.

Bunuel's Law

Overdoing things is harmful in all cases, even when it comes to efficiency.

Law of Bureaucracy

When a problem goes away, the people working to solve it do not.

Bureaucratic Cop-Out #1

You should have seen it when *I* got it.

Burns's Balance

If the assumptions are wrong, the conclusions aren't likely to be very good.

Bus Transportation Laws

1. The bus that left the stop just before you got there is your bus.

2. The amount of time you have to wait for a bus is directly proportional to the inclemency of the weather.

3. All buses heading in the opposite direction drive off the face of the earth and never return.

4. The last rush-hour express bus to your neighborhood leaves five minutes before you get off work.

5. Bus schedules are arranged so your bus will arrive at the transfer point precisely one minute after the connecting bus has left.

6. Any bus that can be the wrong bus will be the wrong bus. All others are out of service or full.

Business Maxims

1. No matter how low you bid the job there is always an idiot out there willing to do it for less.

2. The more you cut your price to get business, the more likely you are to go out of business.

3. The more you try to compete on a price basis the lower your prices will go. Corollary: Your income will follow.

4. The bigger your yellow pages ad , the more low priced calls from non-repeat customers you will get.

5. Increasing your ad size increases the percentage of low profit calls you get.

6. The prize for beating out all of your competitors for the biggest most expensive ad in all of the different yellow pages books is bankruptcy.

7. The more you advertise that you have 24 hour service, the more security guards and insomniacs will call you in the middle of the night with requests for price quotations.

8. Advertise as a 24 hour service and you will get angry calls from people who stopped by your shop at four in the morning and you weren't there.

9. Your best apprentice will quit and open a shop across the street and cut your prices.

10. The one who is un-trainable will stay with you forever.

Bustlin' Billy's Bogus Beliefs

1. The organization of any program reflects the organization of the people who develop it.

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

3. Anything is possible, but nothing is easy.

4. Capitalism can exist in one of only two states -- welfare or warfare.

5. I'd rather go whoring than warring.

6. History proves nothing.

7. There is nothing so unbecoming on the beach as a wet kilt.

8. A little humility is arrogance.

9. A lot of what appears to be progress is just so much technological rococo.

Butler's Law of Progress

All progress is based on a universal innate desire on the part of every organism to live beyond its income.

Bye's First Law of Model Railroading

Anytime you wish to demonstrate something, the number of faults is proportional to the number of viewers.

Bye's Second Law of Model Railroading

The desire for modeling a prototype is inversely proportional to the decline of the prototype.


Cafeteria Law

The item you had your eye on the minute you walked in will be taken by the person in front of you.

Cahn's Axiom (Allen's Axiom)

When all else fails, read the instructions.

Calkin's Law of Menu Language

The number of adjectives and verbs that are added to the description of a menu item is in inverse proportion to the quality of the resulting dish.

Camp's Law

A coup that is known in advance is a coup that does not take place.

Campbell's Law

Nature abhors a vacuous experimenter.

Canada Bill Jones's Motto

It's morally wrong to allow suckers to keep their money.

Canada Bill Jones's Supplement

A Smith and Wesson beats four aces.

Cannon's Cogent Comment

The leak in the roof is never in the same location as the drip.

Cannon's Comment

If you tell the boss you were late for work because you had a flat tire, the next morning you will have a flat tire.

Captain Penny's Law

You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you can't fool MOM.

The Cardinal Conundrum

An optimist believes that we live in the best of all possible worlds. A pessimist fears that this is true.

Carpenters Law

If you have only one nail, it will bend.

Carson's Law

It's better to be rich and healthy than poor and sick.

Cartoon Laws

1. Any body suspended in space will remain in space until made aware of its situation. Daffy Duck steps off a cliff, expecting further pastureland. He loiters in midair, soliloquizing flippantly, until he chances to look down. At this point, the familiar principle of 32 feet per second per second takes over.

2. Any body in motion will tend to remain in motion until solid matter intervenes suddenly. Whether shot from a cannon or in hot pursuit on foot, cartoon characters are so absolute in their momentum that only a telephone pole or an outsize boulder retards their forward motion absolutely. Sir Isaac Newton called this sudden termination of motion the stooge's surcease.

3. Any body passing through solid matter will leave a perforation conforming to its perimeter. Also called the silhouette of passage, this phenomenon is the speciality of victims of directed-pressure explosions and of reckless cowards who are so eager to escape that they exit directly through the wall of a house, leaving a cookie-cutout- perfect hole. The threat of skunks or matrimony often catalyzes this reaction.

4. The time required for an object to fall twenty stories is greater than or equal to the time it takes for whoever knocked it off the ledge to spiral down twenty flights to attempt to capture it unbroken. Such an object is inevitably priceless, the attempt to capture it inevitably unsuccessful.

5. All principles of gravity are negated by fear. Psychic forces are sufficient in most bodies for a shock to propel them directly away from the earth's surface. A spooky noise or an adversary's signature sound will induce motion upward, usually to the cradle of a chandelier, a treetop, or the crest of a flagpole. The feet of a character who is running or the wheels of a speeding auto need never touch the ground, especially when in flight.

6. As speed increases, objects can be in several places at once. This is particularly true of tooth-and-claw fights, in which a character's head may be glimpsed emerging from the cloud of altercation at several places simultaneously. This effect is common as well among bodies that are spinning or being throttled. A 'wacky' character has the option of self- replication only at manic high speeds and may ricochet off walls to achieve the velocity required.

7. Certain bodies can pass through solid walls painted to resemble tunnel entrances; others cannot. This trompe l'oeil inconsistency has baffled generation, but at least it is known that whoever paints an entrance on a wall's surface to trick an opponent will be unable to pursue him into this theoretical space. The painter is flattened against the wall when he attempts to follow into the painting. This is ultimately a problem of art, not of science.

8. Any violent rearrangement of feline matter is impermanent. Cartoon cats possess even more deaths than the traditional nine lives might comfortably afford. They can be decimated, spliced, splayed, accordion-pleated, spindled, or disassembled, but they cannot be destroyed. After a few moments of blinking self pity, they reinflate, elongate, snap back, or solidify. Corollary - A cat will assume the shape of its container.

9. For every vengeance there is an equal and opposite revengeance. This is the one law of animated cartoon motion that also applies to the physical world at large. For that reason, we need the relief of watching it happen to a duck instead.

10. Everything falls faster than an anvil. Examples too numerous to mention from the Roadrunner cartoons.

Cavanaugh's Postulate

All kookies are not in a jar.

Cayo's Law

The only things that start on time are those that you're late for.

Chappaquidick Theorem

The sooner and in more detail you announce the bad news, the better.

Law of Character and Appearance

People don't change; they only become more so.

Chase's Contentions

1. The explanation requiring the fewest assumptions is the most likely to be correct.

2. Whenever two hypotheses cover the facts, use the simpler of the two.

3. Cut the crap. A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow.

Chase's Observations of Human Belief

1. The most preposterous notion that Homo Sapiens has ever dreamed up is that there is a Lord God of Creation.

2. That this God is the shaper and ruler of all the universe.

3. That this God lives up in the sky.

4. That this God wants the saccharine adoration of his creatures and can be swayed by their prayers.

5. That this God becomes petulant if He does not receive this flattery; Conclusion - 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.

Chase's Rule For Success

Trust only those who stand to lose as much as you when things go wrong.

Chases Laws of Car Repairs

1. Leakproof seals- will.

2. Self starters -won't.

3. Interchangeable parts-won't.

4. Any tool dropped while repairing a car will roll underneath to the exact center.

5. After you have repaired it yourself you will have one small part left over that doesn't go anywhere.

6. Every automobile comes with a build in abyss which things that you have dropped fall into, never to be seen again.

Checkbook Balancer's Law

In matters of dispute, the bank's balance is always smaller than yours.

Cheops's Law

Nothing ever gets built on schedule or within budget.

Chesterton's Observation

I have seen the truth and it makes no sense.

Chili Cook's Secret

If your next pot of chili tastes better, it probably is because of something left out, rather than added.

Chisholm's First Law and Corollary

see Murphy's Third and Fifth Laws.

Chisholm's Second Law

When things are going well, something will go wrong.


1. When things just can't get any worse, they will.

2. Anytime things appear to be going better, you have overlooked something.

Chisholm's Third Law

Proposals, as understood by the proposer, will be judged otherwise by others.


1. If you explain so clearly that nobody can misunderstand, somebody will.

2. If you do something which you are sure will meet with everyone's approval, somebody won't like it.

3. Procedures devised to implement the purpose won't quite work.

4. No matter how long or how many times you explain, no one is listening.

Churchill's Commentary on Man

Man will occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of the time he will pick himself up and continue on as though nothing has happened.

Ciardi's Poetry Law

Whenever in time, and wherever in the universe, any man speaks or writes in any detail about the technical management of a poem, the resulting irascibility of the reader's response is a constant.

Cirino's Law of Burnt Fingers

Hot glass looks the same as cold glass.

Clark's First Law of Relativity

No matter how often you trade dinner or other invitations with in-laws, you will lose a small fortune in the exchange.

Corollary - Don't try it: you cannot drink enough of your in-laws' booze to get even before your liver fails.

Clark's Law

It's always darkest just before the lights go out.

Clarke's First Law

When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.

Corollary (Asimov) - When the lay public rallies round an idea that is denounced by distinguished but elderly scientists, and supports that idea with great fervor and emotion -- the distinguished but elderly scientists are then, after all, right.

Clarke's Second Law

The limits of the possible can only be defined by going beyond them into the impossible.

Clarke's Third Law

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

Clarke's Law of Revolutionary Ideas

Every revolutionary idea -- in Science, Politics, Art or Whatever -- evokes three stages of reaction. They may be summed up by the three phrases:

1. "It is completely impossible -- don't waste my time."

2. "It is possible, but it is not worth doing."

3. "I said it was a good idea all along."

Cleveland's Highway Law

Highways in the worst need of repair naturally have low traffic counts, which results in low priority for repair work.

Clopton's Law

For every credibility gap there is a gullibility fill.

Clyde's Law

If you have something to do, and put it off long enough, chances are that someone else will do it for you.

Cohen's Law

What really matters is the name you succeed in imposing on the facts -- not the facts themselves.

Cohen's Laws of Politics

Law of Alienation

Nothing can so alienate a voter from the political system as backing a winning candidate.

Law of Ambition

At any one time, thousands of borough councilmen, school board members, attorneys, and businessmen -- as well as congressmen, senators, and governors -- are dreaming of the White House, but few, if any of them, will make it.

Law of Attraction

Power attracts people but it cannot hold them.

Law of Competition

The more qualified candidates who are available, the more likely the compromise will be on the candidate whose main qualification is a nonthreatening incompetence.

Law of Inside Dope

There are many inside dopes in politics and government.

Law of Lawmaking

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

Law of Permanence

Political power is as permanent as today's newspaper. Ten years from now, few will know or care who the most powerful man in any state was today.

Law of Secrecy

The best way to publicize a governmental or political action is to attempt to hide it.

Law of Wealth

Victory goes to the candidate with the most accumulated or contributed wealth who has the financial resources to convince the middle class and poor that he will be on their side.

Law of Wisdom

Wisdom is considered a sign of weakness by the powerful because a wise man can lead without power but only a powerful man can lead without wisdom.

Cohn's Law

The more time you spend in reporting on what you are doing, the less time you have to do anything. Stability is achieved when you spend all your time doing nothing but reporting on the nothing you are doing.

Cole's Axiom

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

Cole's Law

Thinly sliced cabbage.

Colson's Law

When you've got them by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow.

Comin's Law

People will accept your idea much more readily if you tell them Benjamin Franklin said it first.

Committee Law

1. A committee is the only life form with 12 stomachs and no brain.

2. A camel is a horse which was designed by a committee

3. If more than one person is responsible for a miscalculation, no one will be at fault.

4. A committee is twelve people doing the work of one.

Committee Rules

1. Never arrive on time, or you will be stamped a beginner.

2. Don't say anything until the meeting is half over; this stamps you as being wise.

3. Be as vague as possible; this prevents irritating the others.

4. When in doubt, suggest that a subcommittee be appointed.

5. Be the first to move for adjournment; this will make you popular -- it's what everyone is waiting for.

Commoner's Three Laws of Ecology

1. No action is without side-effects.

2. Nothing ever goes away.

3. There is no free lunch.

Compensation Corollary

The experiment may be considered a success if no more than 50% of the observed measurments must be discarded to obtain a correspondence with theory.

Law of Competition

The more qualified candidates who are available, the more likely the compromise will be on the candidate whose main qualification is a nonthreatening incompetence.

Law of Computability

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

Law of Computability Applied to Social Science (Brook's Law)

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

Conference Principle

The speaker with the most monotonous voice speaks after the big meal.

Connolly's Law of Cost Control

The price of any product produced for a government agency will be not less than the square of the initial Firm Fixed-Price Contract.

Connolly's Rule for Political Incumbents

Short-term success with voters on any side of a given issue can be guaranteed by creating a long-term special study commission made up of at least three divergent interest groups.

Conrad's Conundrum (Stentson's Law)

Technologie don't transfer.

Considine's Law

Whenever one word or letter can change the entire meaning of a sentence, the probability of an error being made will be in direct proportion to the embarrassment it will cause.

Consultation Law

The job that pays the most will be offered when there is no time to deliver the services.

Law of Consumer Economics

If the shoe fits, it's ugly. If it's good, they discontinue it.

Conway's Law

In every organization there will always be one person who knows what is going on. This person must be fired.

Conway's Law #1

If you assign N persons to write a compiler you'll get a N-1 pass compiler.

Conway's Law #2

In every organization there will always be one person who knows what is going on. This person must be fired.

Cook's Law

Much work, much food; little work, little food; no work, burial at sea.

Cook's Laws of Travel

1. When packing for a vacation, take half as much clothing and twice as much money.

2. Nothing can be done in one trip.

3. If you have the time, you won't have the money. If you have the money you won't have the time.

Cooke's Law

In any decisive situation, the amount of relevant information available is inversely proportional to the importance of the decision.

Coolidge's Immutable Observation

When more and more people are thrown out of work, unemployment results.

Cooper's Law

All machines are amplifiers.

Cooper's Metalaw

A proliferation of new laws creates a proliferation of new loopholes.

Corcoroni's Laws of Bus Transportation

1. The bus that left the stop just before you got there is your bus.

2. The amount of time you have to wait for a bus is directly proportional to the inclemency of the weather.

3. All buses heading in the opposite direction drive off the face of the earth and never return.

4. The last rush-hour express bus to your neighborhood leaves five minutes before you get off work.

5. Bus schedules are arranged so your bus will arrive at the transfer point precisely one minute after the connecting bus has left.

6. Any bus that can be the wrong bus will be the wrong bus. All others are out of service or full.

Cornuelle's Law

Authority tends to assign jobs to those least able to do them.

Law of Correctibility

No matter how well you perform your job, a superior will seek to modify the results.

Corry's Law

Paper is always strongest at the perforations.

Cosmetologist's Principle

Whenever you need to stop at a light to put on makeup, every light will be green.

Courtois's Rule

If people listened to themselves more often, they'd talk less.

Crane's Law (Friedman's Reiteration)

There ain't no such thing as a free lunch. ("tanstaafl")

Crane's Rule

There are three ways to get something done: do it yourself, hire someone, or forbid your kids to do it.

Cripp's Law

When traveling with children on one's holidays, at least one child of any number of children will request a rest room stop exactly halfway between any two given rest areas.

Cropp's Law

The amount of work done varies inversely with the amount of time spent in the office.

Culshaw's First Principle of Recorded Sound

Anything, no matter how bad, will sound good if played back at a very high level for a short time.

Cutler Webster's Law

There are two sides to every argument unless a man is personally involved, in which case there is only one.

Law of Cybernetic Entomology

There's always one more bug.

Czecinski's Conclusion

There is only one thing worse than dreaming you are at a conference and waking to find that you are at a conference, and that is the conference where you can't fall asleep.


Danforth's Rules of Random Selection

1. Never be first

2. Never be last.

3. Never volunteer for anything.

Darrow's Observation

History repeats itself. That's one of the things wrong with history.

Darwin's Observation

Nature will tell you a direct lie if she can.

Dave's Law of Advice

Those with the best advice offer no advice.

Dave's Rule of Street Survival

Speak softly and own a big, mean Doberman.

Davidson's Maxim

Democracy is that form of government where everybody gets what the majority deserves.

Davis's Basic Law of Medicine

Pills to be taken in twos always come out of the bottle in threes.

Dawson's Rules of Superior Inferiority

1. Don't let your superiors know that your are better than they are.

2. You never know who's right but you always know who's in charge.

Deadline-Dan's Demo Demonstration

The higher the ``higher-ups'' are who've come to see your demo, the lower your chances are of giving a successful one.

Deadlock's Law

If the law-makers make a compromise, the place where it will be felt most is the taxpayer's pocket.

Corollary - The compromise will always be more expensive than either of the suggestions it is compromising.

Dean Martin's Definition of Drunkenness

You're not drunk if you can lie on the floor without holding on.

Dean's Law of the District of Columbia

Washington is a much better place if you are asking questions rather than answering them.

First Law of Debate

Never argue with a fool. People might not know the difference.

Decaprio's Rule

Everything takes more time and money.

Deitz's Law of Ego

The fury engendered by the misspelling of a name in a column is in direct ratio to the obscurity of the mentionee.

Demian's Observation

There is always one item on the screen menu thatis mislabeled and should read "`Abandon all hope Ye who enter here".

Dennis's Principles of Management by Crisis

1. To get action out of management, it is necessary to create the illusion of a crisis in the hope it will be acted upon.

2. Management will select actions or events and convert them to crises. It will then over-react.

3. Management is incapable of recognizing a true crisis.

4. The squeaky hinge gets the oil.

Denniston's Law

Virtue is its own punishment.

Fifth Law of Design

Design flaws travel in groups.

Dhawan's Laws for the Non-Smoker

1. The cigarette smoke always drifts in the direction of the non-smoker regardless of the direction of the breeze.

2. The amount of pleasure derived from a cigarette is directly proportional to the number of non-smokers in the vicinity.

3. A smoker is always attracted to the non-smoking section.

4. The life of a cigarette is directly proportional to the intensity of the protests from non-smokers.


One should always prefer the probable impossible to the improbable possible.

Dieter's Law

Food that tastes the best has the highest number of calories.

Dijkstra's Prescription for Programming Inertia

If you don't know what your program is supposed to do, you'd better not start writing it.

Diners Dilemmas

1. A clean tie attracts the soup of the day.

2. The hardness of butter is in direct proportion to the softness of the roll.

Dingle's Law

When someone drops something, everybody will kick it around instead of picking it up.

Diogenes's First Dictum

The more heavily a man is supposed to be taxed, the more power he has to escape being taxed.

Diogenes's Second Dictum

If a taxpayer thinks he can cheat safely, he probably will.

Dirksen's Three Laws of Politics

1. Get elected.

2. Get re-elected.

3. Don't get mad -- get even.

The First Discovery of Christmas Morning

Batteries not included.

The First Discovery of Christmas Afternoon

Give a kid a new toy- Dad will play with the toy, the kid will play with the box it came in.

Doc's Laws of Automotive Repair

1. If you can reach the faulty part, you don't have the tool to get it off.

2. Quality is inversely proportional to the time left to complete the job.

3. If it jams-force it. If it breaks, it needed replacing anyhow.

Law of Doctoring

It never heals correctly.

Dolly Parton's Principle

The bigger they are, the harder it is to see your shoes.

Donohue's Law

Anything worth doing is worth doing for money.

Donsen's Law

The specialist learns more and more about less and less until, finally, he knows everything about nothing; whereas the generalist learns less and less about more and more until, finally, he knows nothing about everything.

Dooley's Law

Trust everybody, but cut the cards.

Douglas's Law of Practical Aeronautical design

When the weight of the paperwork equals the weight of the plane, the plane will fly.

Douglas's Law of Practical Aeronautics

When the weight of the paperwork equals the weight of the plane, the plane will fly.

Dow's Law

In a hierarchical organization, the higher the level, the greater the confusion.

First Law of Driving

There is no traffic until you start to back out of your driveway.

Law of Driving Dynamics

The speed of an oncoming vehicle is directly proportional to the length of the passing zone.

Dror's First Law

While the difficulties and dangers of problems tend to increase at a geometric rate, the knowledge and manpower qualified to deal with these problems tend to increase linearly.

Dror's Second Law

While human capacities to shape the environment, society, and human beings are rapidly increasing, policymaking capabilities to use those capacities remain the same.

Dryer's Law of Timing

If you're early, it'll be canceled. If you knock yourself out to be on time you will have to wait. If you're late, you will be too late.

Ducharme's Precept

Opportunity always knocks at the least opportune moment.

Dude's Law of Duality

Of two possible events, only the undesired one will occur.

Dunn's Discovery

The shortest measurable interval of time is the time between the moment one puts a little extra aside for a sudden emergency and the arrival of that emergency.

Dunne's Law

The territory behind rhetoric is too often mined with equivocation.

Durant's Discovery

One of the lessons of history is that nothing is often a good thing to do and always a clever thing to say.

Durrell's Parameter

The faster the plane, the narrower the seats.

Dyer's Law

A continuing flow of paper is sufficient to continue the flow of paper.

Dykstra's Law

Everybody is somebody else's weirdo.

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