Quote Origin: Anything You Lose Automatically Doubles In Value

Mignon McLaughlin? Curzon Cooper? Robert Byrne? Apocryphal?

Quote Investigator®
2 min readJun 16


Question marks representing lost objects. Illustration from Pixabay

Question for Quote Investigator: Whenever I lose an item it suddenly becomes very important. The item is exactly what I need to complete a vital task. This experience is reflected in the following quip:

Anything you lose automatically doubles in value.

Would you please determine who originated this quip?

Reply from Quote Investigator: Mignon McLaughlin was a writer and editor at magazines such as “The Atlantic Monthly”, “Glamour”, and “Vogue” for four decades from the 1940s to the 1970s. In 1966 she published “The Second Neurotic’s Notebook” which contained miscellaneous aphorisms such as the following three statements. Boldface added to excepts by QI

A sense of humor is a major defense against minor troubles.
It’s easier to part with a friend than an opinion.
Anything you lose automatically doubles in value.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

In 1989 “The New Official Rules” compiled by Paul Dickson included a rule about a different type of unfortunate doubling:²

Cooper’s Discovery. That any liquid accidentally spilt automatically doubles in volume.
— Lady Curzon Cooper, London, England

In 1997 “Proverb Wit & Wisdom” compiled by Louis A. Berman contained the following:³

Anything you lose automatically doubles in value. Mignon McLaughlin

In 2012 the quip appeared in “The 2,548 Wittiest Things Anybody Ever Said” compiled by Robert Byrne.⁴

In conclusion, Mignon McLaughlin deserves credit for this joke. She included it in her 1966 book “The Second Neurotic’s Notebook”.

Image Notes: Illustration of question marks symbolically representing lost objects from qimono at Pixabay.

[1] 1966, The Second Neurotic’s Notebook by Mignon McLaughlin, Chapter 9: Getting and Spending, Quote Page 37, 55, and 80, The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Indianapolis, Indiana. (Verified with scans)

[2] 1989, The New Official Rules: Maxims for Muddling Through to the Twenty-First Century, Compiled by Paul Dickson, Quote Page 53, Published by Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, Reading, Massachusetts. (Verified on with hardcopy)

[3] 1997, Proverb Wit & Wisdom: A Treasury of Proverbs, Parodies, Quips, Quotes, Clichés, Catchwords, Epigrams, and Aphorisms, Compiled by Louis A. Berman With Assistance by Daniel K. Berman, Topic: Absence, Quote Page 2, A Perigee Book: The Berkley Publishing Group, New York. (Verified with scan)

[4] 2012, The 2,548 Wittiest Things Anybody Ever Said, Compiled by Robert Byrne, Quote Number 2,003, Touchstone: A Division of Simon & Schuster, New York. (Verified on paper)



Quote Investigator®

Garson O'Toole specializes in tracing quotations. He operates the QuoteInvestigator.com website which receives more than 4 million visitors per year