You have probably heard of Murphy’s Laws, but here’s some similar ones you might not know about:
Aigner’s Axiom: No matter how well you perform your job, a superior will
seek to modify the results.
Airplane Law: When the plane you’re on is late, the plane you’re
transferring to is on time.
Alinsky’s Rule for Radicals: Those who are most moral are farthest from the
Allen’s Axiom: When all else fails, read the directions.
Allen’s Law: Almost anything is easier to get into than to get out of.
Amand’s Law of Management: Everyone is always someplace else.
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 strike your toes.
Aristotle’s Dictum: One should always prefer the probable impossible to the
Army Axiom: Any order that can be misunderstood has been misunderstood.
Arthur’s First Law of Love: People to whom you are attracted inevitably
think you remind them of someone else.
Atwood’s Fourteenth Corollary: No books are lost by lending except those
you particularly wanted to keep.
Baker’s Law of Economics: You never want the one you can afford.
Ballance’s Law of Relativity: How long a minute is depends on which side of
the bathroom door you’re on.
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.
Barth’s Distinction: There are two types of people: those who divide people
into two types, and those who don’t.
Baruch’s Observation: If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a
Basic Baggage Principle: Whatever carrousel you stand by, your baggage will
come in on another one.
Basic Law of Befuddlement and Football: The best defense is a good offense.
Basic Law of Exams: The more studying you did for the exam, the less sure
you are as to which answer they want.
Beach’s Law: No two identical parts are alike.
Beck’s Political Law – A good slogan beats a good solution.
Bedfellow’s Rule: The one who snores will fall asleep first.
Beifeld’s Principle: The probability of a young man meeting with a
desirable and receptive young female increases by pyramidal progression when
he is already in the company of: (1) a date, (2) his wife, (3) a better
looking and richer male friend.
Bell’s Theorem: When a body is immersed in water, the telephone rings.
Berkowitz’s Postulate: A clean desk gives a sense of relief and a plan for
Berman’s Corollary to Roberts’s Axiom: One man’s error is another man’s
Berra’s First Law: You can observe a lot just by watching.
Berra’s Second Law: Anyone who is popular is bound to be despised.
Beryl’s Law: The “Consumer Report” on the item will come out a week after
you’ve made your purchase. Corollaries: 1. The one you bought will be
rated “unacceptable”. 2. The one you almost bought will be rated “best
Biondi’s Law: If your project doesn’t work, look for the part you didn’t
think was important.
Bitton’s Postulate on State-of-the-Art Electronics: If you understand it,
Blair’s Observation: The best laid plans of mice and men are usually about
Bocklage’s Law: He who laughs last probably didn’t get the joke.
Bogovich’s Law: He who hesitates is probably right.
Boling’s Postulate: If you’re feeling good, don’t worry. You’ll get over
Borkowski’s Law: You can’t guard against the arbitrary.
Bowersox’s Law of the Workshop: If you have only one nail, it will bend.
Boyle’s Laws – 1) The first pull on the cord will always send the drapes the
wrong way. 2) Anything sore will be bumped more often.
Bralek’s Rule for Success: Trust only those who stand to lose as much as
you when things go wrong.
Britt’s Green Thumb Postulate: The life expectancy of a house plant varies
inversely with its price and directly with its ugliness.
Bromberg’s First Law of Auto Repair: When the need arises, the tool or
object closest to you becomes a hammer.
Bromberg’s Second Law of Auto Repair: No matter how minor the task, you
will inevitably end up covered with grease and motor oil.
Brooke’s Law: Whenever a system becomes completely defined, some damn fool
discovers something that either abolishes the system or expands it beyond
Brook’s Law: Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later.
Brook’s Laws of Retailing: Security isn’t. Management can’t. Sales
promotions don’t. Customer assistance doesn’t. Worker’s won’t.
Bucy’s Law: Nothing is ever accomplished by a reasonable man.
Bumper-To-Bumper Belief: Traffic congestion increases in proportion to the
length of time the street is supervised by a traffic control officer.
Bureaucracy Principle: Only a bureaucracy can fight a bureaucracy.
Burr’s Law: You can fool some of the people all of the time and all of the
people some of the time, and that’s sufficient.
Cafeteria Law: The item you had your eye on the minute you walked in will
be taken by the person in front of you.
Canada Bill’s Motto: A Smith & Wesson beats four aces.
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.
Cardinal Conundrum: An optimist believes we live in the best of all
possible worlds. A pessimist fears this is true.
Carlson’s Consolation: Nothing is ever a complete failure; it can always
serve as a bad example.
Cheop’s Law: Nothing ever gets build on schedule or within budget.
Chisholm’s First Corollary: If you do something that you are sure will meet
with everybody’s approval, somebody won’t like it.
Chisholm’s Second Corollary: If you explain so clearly that nobody can
misunderstand, somebody will.
Chisholm’s Second Law: When things are going well, something will go wrong.
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.
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.”
Clarke’s Third Law: Any sufficiently advanced technology is
indistinguishable from magic.
Clyde’s Law: If you have something to do, and you put it off long enough,
chances are someone else will do it for you.
Cochrane’s Aphorism: Before ordering a test, decide what you will do if it
is (1) positive or (2) negative. If both answers are the same, don’t take
Cole’s Law: Thinly sliced cabbage.
Collin’s Conference Principle: The speaker with the most monotonous voice
speaks after the big meal.
Computer Programmer’s Lament: Program complexity grows until it exceeds the
capability of the programmer who must maintain it.
Conway’s Law: In any organization there will always be one person who knows
what is going on; eventually this person will be fired.
Cooper’s Metalaw: A proliferation of new laws creates a proliferation of
Cornuelle’s Law: Authority tends to assign jobs to those least able to do
Courtois’s Rule: If people listened to themselves more often, they would
Dale’s Parking Postulate: If only two cars are left in a vast parking lot,
one will be blocking the other.
Darrow’s Comment: History repeats itself. That’s one of the things wrong
Davis’s Law: If a headline ends in a question mark, the answer is “no”.
De Jesus’s Observation: An expert is that person who is most surprised by
the latest evidence to the contrary.
Deal’s First Law of Sailing: The amount of wind will vary inversely with
the number and experience of the people you take on board.
Deal’s Second Law of Sailing: No matter how strong the breeze when you
leave the dock, once you have reached the furthest point from port the wind
Dedera’s Law: In a three-story building served by one elevator, nine times
out of ten the elevator car will be on a floor where you are not.
DeHay’s Axiom: Simple jobs always get put off because there will be time to
do them later.
DeVyver’s Law: Given a sufficient number of people and an adequate amount of
time, you can create insurmountable opposition to the most inconsequential
Dieter’s Law: The food that tastes the best has the highest number of
Dilbert Principle: Incompetent employees are promoted to the position where
they can do the least damage – management.
Diner’s Dilemma: A clean tie attracts the soup of the day.
Dingle’s Law: When somebody drops something, everybody will kick it around
instead of picking it up.
Displaced Hassle Principle: To beat the bureaucracy, make your problem their
Dolan’s Law – If a person has had any connection with Harvard University or
the state of Texas, he will find a way to make that known to you during the
first ten minutes of your first conversation.
Dooley’s Law: Trust everybody, but cut the cards.
Dorr’s Law of Athletics: In an otherwise empty locker room, any two
individuals will have adjoining lockers.
Dr. Samuelson’s Reflection: The real objective of a committee is not to
reach a decision, but to avoid it.
Drazen’s Law of Restitution: The time it takes to rectify a situation is
inversely proportional to the time it took to do the damage. Example: It
takes longer to glue a vase together than to break one.
Drew’s Law of Highway Biology: The first bug to hit a clean windshield
lands directly in front of your eyes.
Drew’s Law of Professional Practice: The client who pays you the least
complains the most.
Drummond’s Law of Personnel Recruiting: The ideal resume will turn up one
day after the job has been filled.
Ducharme’s Precept: Opportunity always knocks at the least opportune
Ducharm’s Axiom: If one views his problem closely enough he will recognize
himself as a part of the problem.
Dude’s Law of Duality: Of two possible events, only the undesired one will
Dumb Luck Rule: You can always hit what you don’t aim at.
Dykstra’s Law: Everybody is somebody else’s weirdo.
Eddie’s First Law of Business: Never conduct negotiations before 10:00 a.m.
or after 4:00 p.m. Before 10:00 you appear too anxious, and after 4:00 they
think you’re desperate.
Edds’s Law of Radiology: The colder the X-Ray table, the more of your body
you are required to place on it.
Edelstein’s Advice: Don’t worry about what other people think of you —
they’re too busy worrying about what you think of them.
Ehre’s Laws of Double Doors – In approaching an entrance that has two doors,
you will: 1) always enter the locked side; 2) Always pushed when you should
have pulled (or vice-versa); 3) Always, even when the door says to push or
pull, do the opposite 90% of the time.
Ely’s Law: Wear the right costume and the part plays itself.
Eng’s Principle: The easier it is to do, the harder it is to change.
Etorre’s Observation: The other line moves faster.
Evans’s and Bjorn’s Law: No matter what goes wrong, there is always
somebody who knew it would.
Evans’s Law: If you can keep your head when all about you are losing
theirs, then you just don’t understand the problem.
Extended Murphy’s Law: If a series of events can go wrong, it will do so in
the worst possible sequence.
Fahnestock’s Rule for Failure: If at first you don’t succeed, destroy all
evidence that you tried.
Farber’s Fourth Law: Necessity is the mother of strange bedfellows.
Farber’s Third Law: We’re all going down the same road in different
Farnsdick’s Corollary: After things have gone from bad to worse, the cycle
will repeat itself.
Farrell’s Law of New-Fangled Gadgetry: The most expensive component is the
one that breaks.
Felson’s Law: To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism; to steal from
many is research.
Ferguson’s Precept: A crisis is when you can’t say “let’s forget the whole
Fifth Law of Unreliability: To err is human, but to really foul things up
requires a computer.
Fifth Rule of Politics: When a politician gets an idea, he usually gets it
Finagle’s Eight Rule: Teamwork is essential . . . it allows you to blame
Finagle’s First Law: If an experiment works, something has gone wrong.
Finagle’s Fourth Law: Once a job is fouled up, anything done to improve it
only makes it worse.
Finagle’s Laws of Information: 1. The information you have is not what you
want. 2. The information you want is not what you need. 3. The information
you need is not what you can obtain. 4. The information you can obtain
costs more than you want to pay.
Finagle’s Sixth Rule: Do not believe in miracles — rely on them.
Finagle’s Third Law: In any collection of data, the figure most obviously
correct, beyond all need of checking, is the mistake.
Finman’s Bargain Basement Principle: The one you want is never the one on
Finster’s Law: A closed mouth gathers no feet.
Firestone’s Law of Forecasting: Chicken Little only has to be right once.
First Law for Freelance Artists: A high paying rush job comes in only after
you’ve committed to a low paying rush job.
First Law of Applied Terror: When reviewing your notes before an exam, the
most important ones will be illegible.
First Law of Bridge: It’s always the partner’s fault.
First Law of Computer Programming: Any given program, when running, is
First Law of Corporate Planning: Anything that can be changed will be
changed up until there is no time left to change anything.
First Law of Debate: Never argue with a fool — people might forget who’s
First Law of Kitchen Confusion: In a family recipe that you discovered in
an old book, the most vital measurement will be illegible.
First Law of Living: As soon as you’re doing what you wanted to be doing,
you want to be doing something else.
First Law of Money Dynamics: A surprise monetary windfall will be
accompanied by an unexpected expense of the same amount.
First Law of Travel: It always takes longer to get there than to get back.
First Political Principle: No politician talks taxes during an election
First Rule of Acting: Whatever happens, look as if it was intended.
First Rule of Intelligent Tinkering: Save all the parts.
First Rule of Negative Anticipation: You will save yourself a lot of
needless worry if you don’t burn your bridges until you come to them.
First Rule of Superior Inferiority: Don’t let your superiors know you’re
better than they are.
Fish’s First Law of Animal Behavior: The probability of a cat eating its
dinner has absolutely nothing to do with the price of the food placed before
Fish’s Second Law of Animal Behavior: The probability that a household pet
making a fuss to go in or out is directly proportional to the number and
importance of your dinner guests.
Fiske’s Teenage Corollary to Parkinson’s Law: The stomach expands to
accommodate the amount of junk food available.
Flagle’s Law of the Perversity of Inanimate Objects: Any inanimate object,
regardless of its composition or configuration, may be expected to perform
… at any time … in a totally unexpected manor, for reasons that are
obsure or else completely mysterious.
Flugg’s Law: When you need to knock on wood is when you realize the world’s
composed of aluminum and vinyl.
Flugg’s Rule: The slowest checker is always at the quick-check-out lane.
Fowler’s Note: The only imperfect thing in nature is the human race.
Fox on Levelology: What will get you promoted on one level will get you
killed on another.
Fox on Problematics: When a problem goes away, the people working to solve
it do not.
Freeway Axiom: The driver behind you wants to go five miles per hour
Freivald’s Law: Only a fool can reproduce another fool’s work.
Fresco’s Discovery: If you knew what you were doing, you’d probably be
bored. Corollary: Just because you’re bored doesn’t mean you know what
Frothingham’s Fourth Law: Urgency varies inversely with importance.
Fudd’s First Law of Opposition: Push something hard enough and it will fall
Fulton’s Law of Gravity: The effort of catching a falling object will cause
more destruction than if the object had been allowed to fall in the first
Gattuso’s Extension of Murphy’s Law: Nothing is ever so bad that it can’t
General Law: The chaos in the universe always increases.
George’s Law: All pluses have their minuses.
Gerhardt’s Law: If you find something you like, buy a lifetime supply. They
are going to stop making it.
Gilb’s First Law of Computer Unreliability: Computers are unreliable, but
humans are even more unreliable.
Gioia’s Theory: The person with the least expertise has the most opinions.
Glaser’s Law: If it says “one size fits all,” it doesn’t fit anyone.
Glyme’s Formula For Success: The secret of success is sincerity. Once you
can fake that, you’ve got it made.
Golden Rule of Arts and Sciences: Whoever has the gold makes the rules.
Goldenstern’s Rules: 1. Always hire a rich attorney. 2. Never buy from a
Gold’s Law: If the shoe fits, it’s ugly.
Golub’s Second Law of Computerdom: A carelessly planned project takes three
times longer to complete than expected; a carefully planned project takes
only twice as long.
Gourd’s Axiom: A meeting is an event at which the minutes are kept and the
hours are lost.
Grandmother Blackburn’s Mental Umbrella: Always be prepared for the worst.
If it happens, you are ready for it. If it doesn’t, you will be pleasantly
Grandpa Charnock’s Law: You never really learn to swear until you learn to
Grave’s Law: As soon as you make something idiot-proof, along comes another
Green’s Law of Debate: Anything is possible if you don’t know what you’re
Greer’s Third Law: A computer program does what you tell it to do, not what
you want it to do.
Grelb’s Reminder: Eighty percent of all people consider themselves to be
Grissom’s Law – The smallest hole will eventually empty the largest
container, unless it is made intentionally for drainage, in which case it
Grocery Bag Law: The candy bar you planned to eat on the way home from the
market is hidden at the bottom of the grocery bag.
Grossman’s Misquote of H.L. Mencken: Complex problems have simple,
easy-to-understand wrong answers.
Ground Rule for Laboratory Workers: When you do not know what you are
doing, do it neatly.
Gualtieri’s Law of Inertia: Where there’s a will, there’s a won’t.
Gummidge’s Law: The amount of expertise varies in inverse proportion to the
number of statements understood by the general public.
Gumperson’s Law: The probability of a given event occuring is inversely
proportional to its desirability.
Hadley’s First Law of Clothing Shopping: If you like it, they don’t have it
in your size.
Hadley’s Second Law of Clothing Shopping: If you like it and it’s in your
size, it doesn’t fit anyway.
Hamilton’s Rule for Cleaning Glassware: The spot you are scrubbing is
always on the other side. Corollary: If the spot is on the inside, you
won’t be able to reach it.
Hane’s Law: There is no limit to how bad things can get.
Hanggi’s Law: The more trivial your research, the more people will read it
and agree. Corollary: The more vital your research, the less people will
Hardin’s Law: You can never do just one thing.
Harrison’s Postulate: For every action, there is an equal and opposite
Hecht’s Fourth Law: There’s no time like the present for postponing what
you don’t want to do.
Heid’s Law of Lines: No matter how early you arrive, someone else is in
Helga’s Rule: Say no, then negotiate.
Heller’s Law: The first myth of management is that it exists. Corollary:
Nobody really knows what is going on anywhere within the organization.
Hellrung’s Law: If you wait, it will go away. Shavelson’s Extension: . .
. having done its damage. Grelb’s Addition: . . . If it was bad, it’ll be
Henry Kissenger’s Discovery – The nice thing about being a celebrity is that
when you bore people, they think it’s their fault.
Henry’s Quirk of Human Nature: Nobody loves a winner who wins all the time.
Herblock’s Law: If it’s good, they discontinue it.
Hershiser’s First Rule: Anything labeled “NEW” and/or “IMPROVED” isn’t.
Hershiser’s Second Rule: The label “NEW” and/or “IMPROVED” means the price
Hershiser’s Third Rule: The label “ALL NEW,” “COMPLETELY NEW” or “GREAT
NEW” means the price went way up.
Heymann’s Law: Mediocrity imitates.
Higdon’s Law: Good judgement comes from experience. Experience comes from
Hill’s Comment on Murphy’s Law: 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.
Hlade’s Law: If you have a difficult task, give it to a lazy man — he will
find an easier way to do it.
Hoare’s Law of Large Problems: Inside every large problem is a small
problem struggling to get out.
Hoffer’s Law: When people are free to do as they please, they usually
imitate each other.
Hoffstedt’s Employment Principle: Confusion creates jobs.
Hollenbeck’s Law: The direction of take-off will be opposite that of the
Holten’s Homily: The only time to be positive is when you are positive you
Horner’s Five-Thumb Postulate: Experience varies directly with equipment
Horners’s Five Thumb Postulate: Experience varies directly with equipment
Howe’s Law: Everyone has a scheme that will not work.
Hughes’s Observation: Grass growing from sidewalk cracks never turns brown.
Humphries’s Law of Bicycling: The shortest route has the steepest hills.
Hutchinson’s Law: If a situation requires undivided attention, it will
occur simultaneously with a compelling distraction.
Imbesi’s Law of the Conservation of Filth: In order for something to become
clean, something else must become dirty.
Imhoff’s Law: The organization of any bureaucracy is very much like a
septic tank — the really big lumps always rise to the top.
Indisputable Law of Sports Contracts: The more money the free agent signs
for, the less effective he is the following season.
J.S. Gillette’s Commentary on Decisions: I always know what I want . . . I
just keep changing my mind.
Jacob’s Law: To err is human — to blame it on someone else is even more
Jacobson’s Law: The less work an organization produces, the more frequently
Jacquin’s Postulate on Democratic Government: No man’s life, liberty or
property is safe while the legislature is in session.
Jaffe’s Precept: There are some things that are impossible to know — but
it is impossible to know what these things are.
Jana’s Law of Love: A dandelion from a lover means more than an orchid from
Jaruk’s Second Law: If it would be cheaper to buy a new unit, the company
will insist upon repairing the old one. Corollary: If it would be cheaper
to repair the old one, the company will insist on the latest model.
Jay’s First Law of Leadership: Changing things is central to leadership;
changing them before anyone else does is creativity.
Joel’s Law of Economics: First Law: For every economist, there is an equal
and opposite economist. Second Law: They are both wrong.
Joe’s Law: The business contact that you have developed at great expense is
the first person to be let go in any corporate reorganization.
John’s Collateral Corollary: In order to get a loan you must first prove
you don’t need it.
Johnson’s Law: The number of minor illnesses among the employees is
inversely proportionally to the health of the organization.
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 which contained 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.
Jones’s First Law of TV Programming: The only new show worth watching will
Jones’s Law: The man who can smile when things go wrong has thought of
someone he can blame it on.
Jose’s Axiom: Nothing is a temporary as that which is called permanent.
Corollary: Nothing is a permanent as that which is called temporary.
Juhani’s Law: The compromise will always be more expensive than either of
the suggestions it is compromising.
Katz’s Law: Men and nations will act rationally when all other
possibilities have been exhausted.
Kauffman’s First Law of Airports: The distance to the gate is inversely
proportional to the time available to catch your flight.
Kennedy’s Comment on Committees: A committee is twelve men doing the work
Ken’s Law: A flying particle will seek the nearest eye.
Kent Family Law: Never change your plans because of the weather.
Kerr-Marin 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 most extreme liberals.
Kierkegaard’s Observation: Life can only be understood backwards, but it
must be lived forwards.
Kirby’s Comment on Committee: A committee is the only life form with 12
stomachs and no brain.
Knagg’s Law: The more grandiose the plan, the greater the chance for
Knox’s Principle of Star Quality: Whenever a superstar is traded to your
favorite team, he fades. Whenever your team trades away a useless no-name,
he immediately rises to stardom.
Kohn’s Corollary to Murphy’s Law: Two wrongs are only the beginning.
Kranske’s Law: Beware of a day in which you don’t have something to bitch
Lackland’s Laws: 1. Never be first. 2. Never be last. 3. Never
volunteer for anything.
Langsam’s Laws: 1. Everything depends. 2. Nothing is always. 3.
Everything is sometimes.
Las Vegas Law: Never bet on a loser because you think his luck is bound to
Last Law of Product Design: If you can’t fix it, feature it.
Last Law: If several things that could have gone wrong have not gone wrong,
it would have been ultimately beneficial for them to have gone wrong.
Launegayer’s Obversation: Asking dumb questions is easier than correcting
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.
Law of Applied Terror: 80% of the final exam will be based on the one
lecture you missed about the one book you didn’t read.
Law of Arbitrary Distinction: Anything may be divided into as many parts as
Law of Balance: Bad habits will cancel out good ones. Example: The orange
juice and granola you had for breakfast will be canceled out by the
cigarette you smoked on the way to work and the candy bar you just bought.
Law of Christmas Decorating: The outdoor lights that tested perfectly
indoors develop burn-outs as soon as they are strung on the house.
Law of Class Scheduling: When you are occasionally able to schedule two
classes in a row, they will be held in classrooms at opposite ends of the
Law of Gifts: You get the most of what you need the least.
Law of Highway Construction: The most heavily traveled streets spend the
most time under construction.
Law of Human Quirks: Everyone wants to be noticed but no one wants to be
Law of Institutions: The opulence of the front office decor varies
inversely with the fundamental solvency of the firm.
Law of Kitchen Confusion: Once a dish is fouled up, anything added to save
it only makes it worse.
Law of Legislative Action: The length of time it takes a bill to pass
through the legislature is in inverse proportion to the number of lobbying
groups favoring it.
Law of Life’s Highway: If everything is coming your way, you’re in the
Law of Observation: Nothing looks as good close up as it does from far
Law of Political Machinery: When no viable candidate exists someone will
nominate a Kennedy.
Law of Predicted Results: Market research can be conducted and interpreted
to prove any desired conclusion.
Law of Probable Dispersal: Whatever hits the fan will not be evenly
Law of Regressive Achievement: Last year’s was always better.
Law of Revelation: The hidden flaw never remains hidden.
Law of Self Sacrifice: When you starve with a tiger, the tiger starves last.
Law of the Great Idea: The only time you come up with a great solution is
after somebody else has solved the problem.
Law of the Individual: Nobody really cares or understands what anyone else
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 true.
Law of the Marketplace: If only one price can be obtained for any
quotation, the price will be unreasonable.
Law of the Perversity of Nature: You cannot successfully determine
beforehand which side of the bread to butter.
Law of the Search: The first place to look for anything is the last place
you would expect to find it.
Laws of Holes:
First Law of Holes: The first step in getting out of the hole
your dug for yourself is to stop digging.
Second Law of Holes: If a boss
digs himself into a hole, all subordinates are expected to jump in with him.
Third Law of Holes: If a subordinate digs a hole, never expect the boss to
jump in with him.
Fourth Law of Holes: If you expect to miss the holes
others have left in your path to success, stop looking back at the ones you
just climbed out of.
Leap Year Corollary: Exceptions always outnumber rules.
Lemar’s Parking Postulate: If you have to park six blocks away, you will
find two new parking spaces right in front of the building entrance.
Lerman’s Law of Technology: Any technical problem can be overcome given
enough time and money. Lerman’s Corollary: You are never given enough time
Levy’s Eighth Law: No amount of genius can overcome a preoccupation with
Lewis’s Law: People will buy anything that is one to a customer.
Lieberman’s Law: Everybody lies; but it doesn’t matter, since nobody
Livingston’s Laws of Fat: 1. Fat expands to fill any apparel worn. 2. A
fat person walks in the middle of the hall.
Loftus’s Fifth Law of Management: Some people manage by the book, even
though they don’t know who wrote the book or even what book.
Loftus’s Theory on Personnel Recruitment: Far-away talent always seems
better than home-developed talent.
Lord Balfour’s Contention: Nothing matters very much, and very few things
matter at all.
Lovka’s Law of Driving: There is no traffic until you need to make a left
Lowery’s Law: If it jams — force it. If it breaks, it needed replacing
Lunsford’s Rule of Scientific Endeavor: The simple explanation always
follows the complex solution.
Luposchainsky’s Hurry-Up-And-Wait Principle: If you’re early, it’ll be
cancelled. If you knock yourself out to be on time, you will have to wait.
If you’re late, you will be too late.
Lynch’s Law: When the going gets tough, everybody leaves.
Maahs’s Law: Things go right so they can go wrong.
MacPherson’s Theory of Entropy: It requires less energy to take an object
out of its proper place than to put it back.
Mae West’s Observation: To err is human, but it feels divine.
Malek’s Law: Any simple idea will be worded in the most complicated way.
Mark’s Law of Monetary Equalization: A fool and your money are soon
Mars’s Rule: An expert is anyone from out of town.
Maryann’s Law: You can always find what you’re not looking for.
Matilda’s Law of Sub-Committee Formation: If you leave the room, you’re
Matsch’s Law: It’s better to have a horrible ending than to have horrors
Matz’s Maxim: A conclusion is the place where you get tired of thinking.
Matz’s Warning: Beware of the physician who is great at getting out of
Mayne’s Law: Nobody notices the big errors.
McGowan’s Madison Avenue Axiom: If an item is advertised as “under $50,”
you can bet it’s not $19.95.
McGregor’s Revised Maxim – The shortest distance between two points is under
McKee’s Law: When you’re not in a hurry, the traffic light will turn green
as soon as your vehicle comes to a complete stop.
McKernan’s Maxim: Those who are unable to learn from past meetings are
condemned to repeat them.
Meadow’s Maxim: You can’t push on a rope.
Meyer’s Law: It is a simple task to make things complex, but a complex task
to make them simple.
Meyers’s Law: In a social situation, that which is most difficult to do is
usually the right thing to do.
Miles’s Law: Where you stand depends on where you sit.
Miller’s Maxim: In a surplus labor economy, the squeaking wheel does not
get the grease; it gets replaced.
Milstead’s Christmas Card Rule: After you’ve mailed your last card, you
will receive a card from someone you overlooked.
Milstead’s Driving Principle: Whenever you need to stop at a light to put
on makeup, every light will be green.
Morgan’s Discovery – The average man is a little below average.
Morris’s Law of Conferences: The most interesting paper will be scheduled
simultaneously with the second most interesting paper.
Morton’s Law: If rats are experimented upon, they will develop cancer.
Moser’s Law of Spectator Sports: Exciting plays occur only while you are
watching the scoreboard or out buying a hot dog.
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. Weiler’s Law: Anything is edible if it is chopped finely enough.
Muir’s Law: When we try to pick out anything by itself we find it hitched
to everything else in the universe.
Munder’s Corollary: Everyone who does not work has a scheme that does.
Murphy Philosophy: Smile . . . tomorrow will be worse.
Murphy’s Advice: Don’t worry . . . nobody gives a hoot anyway.
Murphy’s Constant: Matter will be damaged in direct proportion to its
Murphy’s First Corollary: Whenever you set out to do something, something
else must be done first.
Murphy’s First Law for Husbands: If you run into an old girlfriend — no
matter how innocently — your wife will know about it before you get home.
Murphy’s First Law for Wives: If you ask your husband to pick up five items
at the store and then add one more as an afterthought, he’ll forget two of
the first five.
Murphy’s First Law of Construction: Power tools will fail at the most
inconvenient time possible.
Murphy’s Fourth Corollary: It is impossible to make anything foolproof
because fools are so ingenious.
Murphy’s Fourth Law for Husbands: Your wife’s stored possessions will
always be on top of your stored possessions.
Murphy’s Fourth Law of the Kitchen: When the meal you are preparing is on
schedule, the guests will be forty-five minutes late. Corollary: When the
guests are on time, the meal will be forty-five minutes late.
Murphy’s Guide to modern Science: 1. If it’s green or it wriggles, it’s
biology. 2. If it stinks, it’s chemistry. 3. If it doesn’t work, it’s
Murphy’s Law of Government: If anything can go wrong, it will do so in
Murphy’s Law of Supply: If you don’t need it and don’t want it you can have
tons of it.
Murphy’s Law of Thermodynamics: Things get worse under pressure.
Murphy’s Law: If anything can go wrong, it will.
Murphy’s Paradox: Doing it the hard way is always easier.
Murphy’s Saving Grace: The worst is enemy of the bad.
Murphy’s Second Corollary: Every solution breeds new problems.
Murphy’s Second Law for Wives: The snapshots you take of your husband are
always more flattering than the ones he takes of you.
Murphy’s Second Law of Construction: When taking something apart to fix a
minor malfunction, you will cause a major malfunction.
Murphy’s Third Corollary: Nature always sides with the hidden flaw.
Murphy’s Third Law for Husbands: The gifts you buy your wife are never as
appropriate as the gifts your neighbor buys his wife.
Murphy’s Third Law for Wives: Whatever arrangement you make for the
division of household duties, your husband’s job will be easier.
Murphy’s Third Law of the Kitchen: The mixing bowl you need is always
Murray’s Laws: 1. Never ask a barber if you need a haircut. 2. Never ask a
salesman if his is a good price.
N-1 Law – If you need four screws for a job, the first three will be easy to
Newton’s Little-Known Seventh Law: A bird in the hand is safer than one
Nineteenth Hole Observation – The older I get, the better I used to be.
Ninety-Ninety Rule of Project Schedules: The first ninety percent of the
task takes ten percent of the time; the last ten percent takes the other
Non-Reciprocal Laws of Expectations: Negative expectations yield negative
results. Positive expectations yield negative results.
O’Brien’s Law: Nothing is ever done for the right reasons.
O’Brien’s Variation on Etorre’s Observation: If you change lines, the one
you just left will start to move faster than the one you are now in.
Oliver’s Law of Location: No matter where you go, there you are!
Olivier’s Law: Experience is something you don’t get until just after you
O’Toole’s Commentary on Murphy’s law: Murphy was an optimist.
Owen’s Law for Secretaries: As soon as you sit down with a cup of hot
coffee, your boss will ask you to do something that will last until the
coffee is cold.
Owen’s Theory of Organizational Deviance: Every organization has an
allotted number of positions to be filled by misfits. Corollary: Once a
misfit leaves, another will be recruited.
Pantuso’s First Law: The book you spent $14.95 for today will come out in
Parkinson’s Law for Medical Research: Successful research attracts the
bigger grant which makes further research impossible.
Parkinson’s Law of Delay: Delay is the deadliest form of denial.
Parkinson’s Second Law: Expenditures rise to meet income.
Park’s Law of Insurance Rates and Taxes: Whatever goes us, stays up.
Parson’s Law of Passports: No one is as ugly as their passport photo.
Party Law: The more food you prepare, the less your guests eat.
Patrick’s Theorem: If the experiment works, you must be using the wrong
Patry’s Law: If you know something can go wrong, and take due precaution to
prevent it, something else will go wrong.
Paulg’s Law: In America, it’s not how much an item costs, it’s how much you
Paul’s Law: You can’t fall off the floor.
Chapman’s Commentary on Paul’s Law: It takes children three years to learn Paul’s Law.
Perkins’s Postulate: The bigger they are, the harder they hit.
Perlsweig’s Law: People who can least afford to pay rent have to. People
who can most afford to pay rent build up equity.
Perlsweig’s Second Law: Whatever goes around, comes around.
Perrussel’s Law: There is no job so simple that it cannot be done wrong.
Pet Principle: No matter which side of door the cat or dog is on, it’s the
Pfeifer’s Principle: Never make a decision that you can get someone else to
Phillips’s Law: Four-wheel-drive just means getting stuck in more
Pineapple Principle: The best parts of anything are always impossible to
remove from the worst parts.
Pitfalls of Genius: No boss will keep an employee who is right all the
Pope’s Law: Chipped dishes never break.
Post’s Managerial Observation: The inefficiency and stupidity of the staff
corresponds to the inefficiency and stupidity of the management.
Poulsen’s Prophesy: If anything is used to its full potential, it will
Price’s First Law: If everybody wants it, nobody gets it.
Priester’s Law of Desire: The more you want it, the quicker the letdown
after you get it.
Principle Concerning Multifunctional Devices: The more functions a device is
required to perform, the less effectively it can perform any individual
Principle of Design Inertia: Any change looks terrible at first.
Pudder’s Law: Anything that begins well, ends badly. Anything that begins
badly, ends worse.
Quantization Revision of Murphy’s Law: Everything goes wrong all at once.
Queue Principle: The longer you wait in line, the greater the likelihood
that you are standing in the wrong line.
Quile’s Consultation Law: The job that pays the most will be offered when
there is no time to deliver the services.
Rap’s Law of Inanimate Reproduction: If you take something apart and put it
back together enough times, eventually you will have two of them.
Ray’s Rueful Rumination: The world is full of surprises, very few of which
Rennie’s Law of Public Transit: If you start walking, the bus will come
when you are precisely halfway between stops.
Revolutionary Law: The sloppier the rebel uniform, the more likely the
overthrow of the existing government.
Reynold’s Law of Climatology: Wind velocity increases directly with the
cost of the hairdo.
Ringwald’s Law of Household Geometry: Any horizontal surface is soon piled
Robertson’s Law: Quality assurance doesn’t.
Roberts’s Axiom: Only errors exist. Berman’s Corollary to Robert’s Axiom:
One man’s error is another man’s data.
Rockefeller Principle: Never do anything you wouldn’t get caught dead
Roger’s Law: As soon as the stewardess serves the coffee, the airliner
encounters turbulence. Davis’s Explanation of Roger’s Law: Serving coffee
on aircraft causes turbulence.
Roman Rule: The one who says it can’t be done shouldn’t interrupt the one
Rominger’s Rules for Students: 1. The more general the title of a course,
the less you will learn from it. 2. The more specific a title is, the less
you will be able to apply it.
Ruby’s Principle of Close Encounters: The probability of meeting someone
you know increases when you are with someone you don’t want to be seen with.
Ruckert’s Law: There is nothing so small that it can’t be blown out of
Rudin’s Law: In crises that force people to choose among alternative
courses of action, most people will choose the worst one possible.
Rudnicki’s Nobel Principle: Only someone who understands something
absolutely can explain it so no one else can understand it.
Rudnicki’s Rule: That which cannot be taken apart will fall apart.
Rule of Failure: If at first you don’t succeed, destroy all evidence that
you have tried.
Rule of Feline Frustration: When your cat has fallen asleep on your lap and
looks utterly content and adorable, you will suddenly have to go to the
Rule of Law: 1. If the facts are against you, argue the law. 2. If the law
is against you, argue the facts. 3. If the factsand the law are against
you, yell like hell.
Rule of Political Promises: Truth varies.
Rule of Reason: If nobody uses it, there’s a reason.
Rule of the Great: When people you greatly admire appear to be thinking
deep thoughts, they probably are thinking about lunch.
Rule of the Rally: The only way to make up for being lost is to make record
time while you are lost.
Rush’s Rule of Gravity: When you drop change at a vending machine, the
pennies will fall nearby, while all the other coins will roll out of sight.
Russ’ Law of Assembly: The one piece that holds the whole thing together
will be missing.
Ryan’s Application of Parkinson’s Law: Possessions increase to fill the
space available for their storage.
Ryan’s Law: Make three correct guesses consecutively and you will establish
yourself as an expert.
Sagan Fallacy: To say a human being is nothing but molecules and atoms is
like saying a Shakespearean play is nothing but words and letters.
Salary Axiom: The pay raise is just large enough to increase your taxes and
just small enough to have no effect on your take-home pay.
Sartre’s Observation: Hell is others.
Sattinger’s Law: It works better if you plug it in.
Sausage Principle: People who love sausage and respect the law should never
watch either one being made.
Schmidt’s Law: If you mess with a thing long enough, it’ll break.
Schnatterly’s Summing Up of the Corollaries: If anything can’t go wrong, it
Schopenhauer’s Law of Entropy: If you put a spoonful of wine in a barrel
full of sewage, you get sewage. If you put a spoonful of sewage in a barrel
full of wine, you get sewage.
Schrimpton’s Law of Teenage Opportunity: When opportunity knocks, you’ve
got headphones on.
Seay’s Law: Nothing ever comes out as planned.
Second Law for Freelance Artists: All rush jobs are due the same day.
Second Law of Applied Terror: The more studying you did for the exam, the
less sure you are as to which answer they want.
Second Law of Business Meetings: If there are two possible ways to spell a
person’s name, you will pick the wrong spelling.
Second Law of Class Scheduling: A prerequisite for a desired course will be
offered only during the following semester.
Second Law of Computer Programming: The value of a program is proportional
to the weight of its output.
Second Law of Final Exams: In your toughest final — for the first time all
year — the most distractingly attractive student in the class will sit next
Second Law of Gardening: Fancy gizmos don’t work.
Second Law of Kitchen Confusion: Once a dish is fouled up, anything added
to save it only makes it worse.
Second Law of Office Murphology: Office machines that function perfectly
during normal business hours will break down when you return at night to use
them for personal business.
Second Principle for Patients: The more boring and out-of-date the
magazines in the waiting room, the longer you will have to wait for your
Second Rule of Environmental Protection: The most efficient way to dispose
of toxic waste is to reclassify the waste as non toxic.
Seeger’s Law: Anything in parentheses can be ignored.
Segal’s Law: A man with one watch knows the time. A man with two is never
Seits’s Law of Higher Education: The one course you must take to graduate
will not be offered during your last semester.
Sevareid’s Law: The chief cause of problems is solutions.
Shakespeare’s Law: Where love is great, the littlest doubts cause fear.
Shapiro’s Law of Reward: The one who does the least work will get the most
Shirley’s Law: Most people deserve each other.
Siddhartha Principle: You cannot cross a river in two strides.
Silverman’s Paradox: If Murphy’s Law can go wrong, it will.
Silver’s Law of Doctoring: It never heals correctly.
Simon’s Law of Destiny: Glory may be fleeting, but obscurity is forever.
Simon’s Law: Everything put together falls apart sooner or later.
Sintetos’s First Law of Consumerism: A 60-day warranty guarantees that the
product will self-destruct on the 61st day.
Sir Walter’s Law: The tendency of smoke from a cigarette, barbeque,
campfire, etc., to drift into a person’s face varies directly with that
person’s sensitivity to smoke.
Skoff’s Law: A child will not spill on a dirty floor.
Smiths’s Law: No real problem has a solution.
Snafu Equation: The bit of information most needed is least available.
Snider’s Law: Nothing can be done in one trip.
Sociology’s Iron Law of Oligarchy: In every organized activity a small
number of participants will become the oligarchical leaders and the others
Sodd’s Second Law: Sooner or later, the worst possible set of circumstances
is bound to occur.
Soper’s Law: Any bureaucracy reorganized to enhance efficiency is
immediately indistinguishable from its predecessor.
Souder’s Law: Repetition does not establish validity.
Spare Parts Principle: The accessibility, during recovery, of small parts
which fall from the work bench, varies directly with the size of the part,
and inversely with its importance to the completion of the work underway.
Spark’s First Rule for Managers: Strive to look tremendously important.
Spark’s Second Rule for Managers: Attempt to be seen with important people.
Spark’s Third Rule for Managers: Speak with authority; however, expound
only on the obvious and proven facts.
Special Law: The workbench is always untidier than last time.
Spencer’s Laws of Accountancy: 1. Trial balances don’t. 2. Working capital
doesn’t. 3. Liquidity tends to run out. 4. Return on investments won’t.
Spencer’s Laws of Data: 1. Anyone can make a decision given enough facts. 2. A good manager can make a decision without enough facts. 3. A perfect manager can operate in perfect ignorance.
Steele’s Plagiarism of Somebody’s Philosophy: Everybody should believe in
something — I believe I’ll have another drink.
Steinbach’s Guideline for Systems Programming: Never test for an error
condition you don’t know how to handle.
Steiner’s Maxim: The fact that you do not know the answer does not mean
that someone else does.
Stenderup’s Law: The sooner you fall behind, the more time you will have to
Stewart’s Law of Retroaction: It is easier to get forgiveness than
Stitzer’s Vacation Principle: When packing for a vacation, take half as
much clothing and twice as much money.
Stockmayer’s Theorem: If it looks easy, it’s tough. If it looks tough,
it’s damn well impossible.
Strano’s Law: When all else fails, try the boss’s suggestion.
Sturgeon’s Law: 90% of everything is crud.
Sutin’s Second Law: The most useless computer tasks are the most fun to do.
Sweeney’s Law: The length of a progress report is inversely proportional to
the amount of progress.
Swipple’s Rule of Order: He who shouts loudest has the floor.
Taylor’s Law of Tailoring: No matter how many alterations, cheap pants
Tenenbaum’s Law of Replicability: The most interesting results happen only
Terman’s Law of Innovation: If you want a track team to win the high jump,
you find one person who can jump seven feet, not seven people who can jump
Thal’s Law: For every vision there is an equal and opposite revision.
Theory of Selective Supervision: The one time during the day you lean back
and relax is the one time the boss walks by.
Thiessen’s Law of Gastronomy: The hardness of the butter is in direct
proportion to the softness of the roll.
Thine’s Law: Nature abhors people.
Third Law for Freelance Artists: The rush job you spent all night on won’t
be needed for at least two days.
Third Law of Committo-Dynamics: Those most opposed to serving on committees
are made chairmen.
Third Law of Kitchen Confusion: You are always complimented on the item
that took the least effort to prepare. Example: If you make roast turkey,
you will be complimented on the baked potato.
Thom’s Law of Marital Bliss: The length of the marriage is inversely
proportional to the cost of the wedding.
Tillinger’s Rule – Moderation in all things, including moderation.
Tillis’s Organizational Principle: If you file it, you’ll know where it is
but never need it. If you don’t file it, you’ll need it but never know
where it is.
Todd’s First Two Political Principles: 1. No matter what they’re telling
you, they’re not telling you the whole truth. 2. No matter what they’re
talking about, they’re talking about money.
Tracey’s Time Observation: Good times end too quickly. Bad times go on
Trischmann’s Paradox: A pipe gives a wise man time to think and a fool
something to stick in his mouth.
Troutman’s Sixth Programming Postulate: Profanity is the one language all
programmers know best.
Truman’s Law: If you cannot convince them, confuse them.
Tupper’s Political Postulate: He who walks astride the fence has few
directions from which to choose.
Tussman’s Law: Nothing is as inevitable as a mistake whose time has come.
Tylczak’s Probability Postulate: Random events tend to occur in groups.
Ultimate Principle: By definition, when you are investigating the unkown you
do not know what you will find.
Unapplicable Law: Washing your car to make it rain doesn’t work.
Universal Equine Equation: At any particular time, there are more horse’s
asses in the world than horses.
Unspeakable Law: As soon as you mention something . . . if it’s good, it
goes away. . . if it’s bad, it happens.
Van Gogh’s Law: Whatever plan one makes, there is a hidden difficulty
Van Oech’s Law: An expert really doesn’t know anymore than you do. He is
merely better organized and has slides.
Vile’s Law of Communication: No one is listening until you make a mistake.
Vile’s Law of Roadmanship: Your own car uses more gas and oil than anyone
Vile’s Law of Value: The more an item costs, the farther you have to send
it for repairs.
Wagner’s Law of Sports Coverage: When the camera focuses on a male athlete
he will spit, pick or scratch.
Wallace’s Observation: Everything is in a state of utter dishevelment.
Walton’s Law of Politics: A fool and his money are soon elected.
Warren’s Rule: To spot the expert, pick the one who predicts the job will
take the longest and cost the most.
Washlesky’s Law: Anything is easier to take apart than to put together.
Watergate Principle: Government corruption is always reported in the past
Weber’s Definition: An expert is one who knows more and more about less and
less until he knows absolutely everything about nothing.
Weiler’s Law: Nothing is impossible for the man who doesn’t have to do it
Weinberg’s First Law: Progress is made on alternate Fridays.
Weinberg’s Second Law: If builders built buildings the way programmers
write programs, then the first woodpecker that came along would destroy
Welwood’s Axiom: Disorder expands proportionately to the tolerance for it.
Westheimer’s Rule: To estimate the time it takes to do a task, estimate the
time you think it should take, multiply by two, and change the unit of
measure to the next highest unit. Thus, we allocate two days for a one-hour
Wethern’s Law of Suspended Judgement: Assumption is the mother of all
Whistler’s Law: You never know who’s right, but you always know who’s in
White’s Chappaquidick Theorem: the sooner and in more detail you announce the bad news, the better.
Wiker’s Law: Government expands to absorb revenue and then some.
Willoughby’s Law: When you try to prove to someone that a machine won’t
work, it will.
Winfield’s Dictum of Direction Giving: The possibility of getting lost is
directly proportional to the number of times the direction-giver says “you
can’t miss it.”
Witten’s Law: Whenever you cut your fingernails you will find a need for
them an hour later.
Witzling’s Law of Progeny Performance: Any child who chatters nonstop at
home will adamantly refuse to utter a word when requested to demonstrate for
Wolter’s Law: If you have the time, you won’t have the money. If you have
the money, you won’t have the time.
Wood’s Axiom: As soon as a still-to-be-finished computer task becomes a
life-or-death situation, the power fails.
Woodside’s Grocery Principle: The bag that breaks is the one with the eggs.
Worker’s Dilemma: 1. No matter how much you do, you’ll never do enough.
2. What you don’t do is always more important than what you do do.
Working Cook’s Laws: 1. If you’re wondering if you took the meat out to
thaw, you didn’t. 2. If you’re wondering if you left the coffee pot plugged
in, you did.
Wright’s First Law of Quality: Quality is inversely proportional to the
time left for completion of the project.
Wyszkowski’s First Law: No experiment is reproducible.
Wyszkowski’s Second Law: Anything can be made to work if you fiddle with it
Yeager’s Law: Washing machines only break down during the wash cycle.
Corollary: All breakdowns occur on the plumber’s day off.
Young’s Law of Inanimate Mobility: All inanimate objects can move just
enough to get in your way.
Young’s Law: All great discoveries are made by mistake.
Young’s Principle on Emergent Individuation: Everybody wants to peel his
Yount’s Law of Mail Ordering: The most important item in an order will no
longer be available.
Zadra’s Law of Biomechanics: The severity of the itch is inversely
proportional to the reach.
Zappa’s Law: There are two things on earth that are universal, hydrogen and
Zeek’s Discovery – The key to flexibility is indecision.
Zelman’s Rule of Radio Reception: Your pocket radio won’t pick up the
station you want to hear most.
Zymurgy’s First Law of Evolving System Dynamics: Once you open a can of
worms, the only way you can re-can them is to use a larger can.
Zymurgy’s Law of Volunteer Labor: People are always available for work in
the past tense.
Zymurgy’s Seventh Exception to Murphy’s Law: When it rains, it pours.