"When in danger, when in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout." Origin? Source?

What is the source for this?
When did it appear?
Is it part of a longer essay or poem?
What did it refer to when it first appeared?

[www.commentarymagazine.com/Summaries/V25I4P80-1.htm+"When+in+danger,+when+in+doubt"+phrase+origin&hl=en&gl=us&ct=clnk&cd=10]Only]([url) reference I could find

No idea who “Osgood” is.

Link does not work.

I saw it in Time Enough for Love (Dora says it, I believe).

google > “When in danger, when in doubt” phrase origin

click on the Commentary Magazine link

Well, yeah, ok.

But that just raises more questions than it answers. :confused:

Any other leads?

Should I submit this one to Cecil?

Crow T Robot says it a lot. MST3K. Definitely not the origin, but I’ll bet it’s where you heard it.

I first saw it in a Mad magazine Star Trek parody; don’t remember what year, but probably between 1965-1970.

Obviously not the source, but the first I encountered it was on the cartoon Duck Tales. At one point, that’s the advice the Junior Woodchuck Guidebook has for the triplets.

Two early newspaper print sitings.

1955 article suggesting it was the “cry of the football team of the Old War College.” Can’t say which war college the writer was talking about or the time frame.

1957 article, written by a WWII naval officer, about the crash of the Andrea Doria in 1957. He uses that jingle and says it’s an old Navy saying. He added the lines, “Stop the engines. Come About. Wake the Captain–roll him out!”

I suspect he means Charles Osgood

NOpe. Robert Endicott Osgood.

And a telling statement from A short biography

I think it’s safe to say that it IS probably a Naval related saying from about the WWII period or perhaps before. Just WHO invented it we’ll probably never know.

It’s also quoted in The Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk, copyright 1951.

So, generally, it might be Naval.

Any Naval Officers on the Board?

We always said “When in panic, fear or doubt, scream and shout and run about!”


You’re gonna need one who was in the Navy before 1951.

As an added data point, I’ve always heard it as:

“When in trouble or in doubt,
run in circles, scream and shout.”

Never heard the ‘when in danger’ version before: wonder which is the most common?

<< It’s always darkest before dawn. So if you’re going to steal your neighbor’s newspaper, that’s the time to do it. >>

Good catch! I can find this cited in a 1954 newspaper article, but there were NO OTHER hits for that phrase. Interesting. Just someone who heard it, and morphed it in another way. This was upstate NY, FWIW.

FWIW, Bosda, my Daddy said this was a common expression in the Navy when he ws on active duty. He served between WWII and the Korean War. My sis was born in '56, as he was leaving the Navy, so this would put the phrase as being in use from about '52 to '56.

We seem to be getting a better fix on this.

Anybody else?