YESNYOU – Murphy’s Law

Murphy's lawHave you ever heard the expression “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong”? It is an example of an adage, and it has become known as ‘Murphy’s Law.’

Exactly why we refer to this popular saying as ‘Murphy’s’ law specifically, is not clear. There are many theories about where the name originated. Even the true meaning of the expression is the subject of intense discussion. Some people think it is a profound statement of philosophy, while others think it is a simple statement of universal fact.

An early example of a similar expression can be found in the 1860s. It states that if we repeat an action often enough, eventually everything that can happen, will happen. This interpretation is surprisingly neutral, while our modern interpretation of the Law is almost universally negative. What is certainly true is that Murphy’s Law is one of the most commonly used expressions in the English language, and has been formatted to fit almost any situation.

Murphy’s Original Lawmurphy's law 2

If there are two or more ways to do something, and one of those ways can result in a catastrophe, then someone will do it.

Murphy’s Law

If anything can go wrong – it will.

Murphy’s First Corollary

Left to themselves, things tend to go from bad to worse.

Murphy’s Second Corollary

It is impossible to make anything foolproof because fools are so ingenious.

Murphy’s Constant

Matter will be damaged in direct proportion to its value.

The Murphy Philosophy

Smile… tomorrow will be worse.

Murphy's law in fridgesMurphy’s Law is everywhere! In addition to the laws, constants and corollaries above, you can find lots of laws specific to almost every aspect of our private or working lives.

Online, you can even find posters and games dedicated to Murphy’s law. In one such game the player has to ‘manipulate and combine items on the beach and turn our sun worshipper’s holidays into a disaster.’ It even recommends that the player ‘be nasty’. In English we use the German word ‘schadenfreude’ to describe the pleasure we sometimes get from seeing the misfortune of other people. This game obviously combines the two principles: of course bad luck is inevitable – if you make it happen!

So why do we need Murphy’s law? Maybe it’s because it’s easier to think that our own bad luck might be inevitable and not the product of our own bad decisions. And it might be easier to sympathise with other people when misfortune strikes because, sooner or later, we’re all victims of Murphy’s Law!


Adage = Expression, phrase or brief anecdote

Saying = Expression

States = Says or indicates

Formatted = Changed in order to be more appropriate

Fit = To be appropriate for

Corollary = Something that follows logically from another thing

Foolproof = Something that cannot fail

Fools = Stupid people or idiots

Ingenious = Very clever

Smile = The shape that your mouth makes when you are happy

Misfortune = Bad luck

Stop! Grammar time!

In English we can use a special group of verbs, called auxiliary modal verbs, when we want to express how certain we are that an event or action will happen.

Look at the expression ‘whatever can happen, will happen.’

Can is used to say that something is possible. Will expresses that an event or action is certain to happen. So this expression really means that any action or event that is possible, is certainly going to happen at some point in the future.


Next week we will have a new contributor to the Blog!

It will be exciting!

It will be remarkable!

It will be unavoidable!

Al in the grass

Un Retroenlace

  1. Por The Love of Learning en 06/11/2015 a 15:41

    […] Murphy’s Law – bad luck or bad karma? […]

Haz un comentario

Tu email nunca se publica o se comparte. Los campos marcados son obligatorios *