fickle fortune

fickle fortune

Capricious fate. The alliteration of this phrase has long appealed to writers, and the idea behind it is even older. The expression appeared in the sixteenth century, in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet (3.5)—“O fortune, fortune! all men call thee fickle”—and elsewhere. Benjamin Franklin also used it: “Fortune is as fickle as she’s fair” (Poor Richard’s Almanack, 1749). Laugh-In, a popular television show of the 1960s and 1970s, used a similar expression, the fickle finger of fate, in a mock talent contest (“Who knows when the fickle finger of fate may beckon you to stardom?”), and issued a mock prize to the winner, the Flying Fickle Finger of Fate Award. According to Eric Partridge, “f——d by the fickle finger of fate” was Canadian armed forces slang in the 1930s for being fouled up in some way, and this probably was the source of the Laugh-In usage. See also wheel of fortune.
See also: fickle, fortune