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Any of certain humorous axioms stating that anything that can possibly go wrong, will go wrong.
[After Edward A. Murphy (1918-1990), American engineer.]
Word History: Edward Murphy was an American engineer who designed sensors for measuring the forces involved in crashes. Used in rocket sled experiments in 1941, his sensors failed to function after another person installed them incorrectly. This experience is said to have prompted Murphy to utter the axiom that has since become associated with his name. Murphy may have spoken the axiom, but he did not invent it, because variations of it are attested from the early 1900s.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
informal another term for Sod's law
[C20: of uncertain origin]
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014
the facetious proposition that if something can go wrong, it will.
[1955–60, Amer.; probably after E.A. Murphy, engineer in U.S. Air Force]
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.
An imaginary rule that states “if something can go wrong, it will;” perhaps from an Irish engineer who first formulated it.
Dictionary of Unfamiliar Words by Diagram Group Copyright © 2008 by Diagram Visual Information Limited