January 04, 2007

murphy bed and other murphys

I don't get it. What's the point of a dog bed you can't use because it's folded away during the day?

The Murphy bed owes its name and existence to William Lawrence Murphy (1876-1959), the manufacturer that produced the original design. The word first occurred in 1918 (according to the OED) in the magazine "Hotel Monthly". Interestingly, though unrelatedly, there is a use of "Murphy" as a diminutive of "Morpheus", the god of dreams, dating back to the 18th century ("dropping into the arms of Murfy"). There's also, of course, Murphy's Law, which, according to the OED, may or may not be related to the name of Captain Edward A. Murphy, "who performed studies on deceleration for the U.S. Air Force in 1949 (during which he noted that if things could be done wrongly, they would be)". According to another source (also cited in the OED), Murphy was a fictitious character, a not very competent mechanic, who appeared in a series of educational cartoons produced by the U.S. Navy.

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