The weakest link

Posted by Masakim on November 15, 2001

In Reply to: The weakest link posted by R. Berg on November 15, 2001

: : I would like to know the origin and meaning of the current popular phrase, "the weakest link"

: A proverb, "A chain is only as strong as its weakest link." The weakest link is, for instance, the most likely part of a complex project to fail, the most questionable proposition in a chain of reasoning, the worst-performing member of a team that must cooperate to accomplish something.

The devil is very busy, and no one knows better than he, that 'nothing is stronger than its weakest part'. (Charles Kingsley's letter dated December 1, 1856)

A chain is no stronger than its weakest link; but if you show how admirably the last few are united ... half the world will forget to test the security of the ... parts which are kept out of sight. (Leslie Stephen in _The Cornhill Magazine_, 1868)

The strength of a chain is no greater than the strength of its first link. (James A. Froude, _Caesar_, 1879)

A chain is only as strong as its weakest link; and the longer the chain, the more weak links. (Laurence J. Peter, _Peter Pyramid_, 1986)