a camel is a horse designed by a committee

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a camel is a horse designed by a committee

  1. An expression critical of committees — or by analogy, group decision-making — by emphasizing the ineffectiveness of incorporating too many conflicting opinions into a single project through compromise. In this figure of speech, the distinguishing features of a camel, such as its humps and poor temperament, are taken to be the deformities that resulted from its poor design.
    • 1952, Proceedings Regular Meeting, Ohio Valley Transportation Advisory Board, Pacific Northwest Advisory Board, pg. 24:
      A camel is a horse designed by a committee, so we hope that this committee will—and I think it will—function appropriately.
    • 1964, Peter and the Commissar, Allan Sherman and the Boston Pops:
      And we all know the saying, which is true as well as witty, that a camel is a horse that was designed by a committee.
    • 1975, The Professional Geographer: The Journal of the Association of American Geographers, v.27 1975, pg. 132:
      If a camel is a horse designed by a committee, what is a materials policy statement prepared by seven study teams?
    • 1976, Popular Science, v.209 1976 Jul-Dec:
      Whoever concluded that a camel is a horse designed by a committee could have similar thoughts about taxicabs.
    • 1998, The Possibility of Social Choice, Nobel Lecture, Amartya Sen:
      "A camel," it has been said, "is a horse designed by committee." This might sound like a telling example of the terrible deficiencies of committee decisions, but it is really much too mild an indictment.
    • 2002,The West Wing, episode Night Five, original airdate February 6th, 2002:
      "This is a presidential address, Andrea, not a camel (...) A camel! A horse built by committee!" (Toby Ziegler)
    • 2004, Roger Ebert's Movie Yearbook 2005, Roger Ebert, Andrews McMeel Publishing, →ISBN, pg. 388:
      To quote another ancient proverb, "A camel is a horse designed by a committee." Life or Something Like It is the movie designed by the camel.
    • 2011, January 5, 2011 Mineola, NY Village Meeting. original airdate January 5, 2011:
      "You know what they say about committees, a camel is a horse designed by a committee - Honorable Mayor Lawrence Werther, Mayor of the Incorporated Village of Mineola, New York.

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