Law of holes
The first law of holes, or the law of holes, is an adage which states: "if you find yourself in a hole, stop digging."
When it is said, "if you find yourself in a hole, stop digging," it is because digging a hole makes it deeper and therefore harder to get out of, which is used as a metaphor: When in an untenable position, it is best to stop making the situation worse. More generally, it advises how one should solve problems of their own making.
The second law of holes is commonly known as: "when you stop digging, you are still in a hole".
The adage has been attributed to a number of sources. It appeared in print on page six of The Washington Post dated 25 October 1911, in the form: "Nor would a wise man, seeing that he was in a hole, go to work and blindly dig it deeper..."
- Apperson, George Latimer (2006). The Wordsworth Dictionary of Proverbs. Ware: Wordsworth Editions. p. 283. ISBN 978-1840223118.
- Lloyd, John; Hargreaves, Ian (8 November 1996). Interview: Denis Healey; Healey's first law of holes is to stop digging. New Statesman. Vol. 9. Archived from the original on 28 July 2014. Retrieved 25 July 2014 – via HighBeam Business.
- Speake, Jennifer (23 October 2008). A Dictionary of Proverbs. OUP Oxford. ISBN 978-0-19-158001-7.
- The Dictionary of Modern Proverbs. Yale University Press. 22 May 2012. ISBN 978-0-300-18335-1. Archived from the original on 26 December 2021. Retrieved 17 November 2021.
- Speake, Jennifer (24 September 2015). Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs. OUP Oxford. ISBN 978-0-19-105959-9. Archived from the original on 26 December 2021. Retrieved 17 November 2021.
- Moore, Merton (4 December 1920). Stop Digging—Climb. Vol. XVII. Holstein-Friesian World. p. 34. Archived from the original on 26 December 2021. Retrieved 17 November 2021.
I have studied this situation thoroughly in five states and in close relation to hundreds of dairymen and the answer to 'Hard Times' is 'If you are in a hole, stop digging - raise your head - open your eyes - think - study -climb.'
- Tech, Tech With (23 October 2020). "The 5 Laws of Holes (+ Examples for Each)". Tech With Tech. Archived from the original on 14 August 2021. Retrieved 14 August 2021.
- Doyle, Charles Clay; Mieder, Wolfgang; Shapiro, Fred R. (2012). The Dictionary of Modern Proverbs. New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 9780300136029.
- "Letting Bryan Down Easy". The Washington Post. 25 October 1911. p. 6. Archived from the original on 13 September 2021. Retrieved 12 September 2021 – via newspapers.com.
- Is That Dirt Being Shoveled?. The Bankers Magazine. Vol. 166. Warren, Gorham & Lamont. 1983. p. 61. LCCN 89657447. Archived from the original on 26 December 2021. Retrieved 24 November 2020.