A rule of thumb is an informal principle that is intended to provide general guidance rather than precise direction. It's not expected that a rule of thumb will always provide the correct answer. For example, see below three rules of thumb for dealing with Internet problems :.
Top definition. The first and original use of the saying is as simple as the words. The thumb was used as a readily available tool of measuring.
Use rule of thumb in a sentence. The traditional rule of thumb when showing up to a party at someone's house is to bring a small gift. An example of a rule of thumb is the general guideline that you don't wear white after Labor Day.
See more words from the same year. Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with rule of thumb. What made you want to look up rule of thumb?
A rule of thumb is a means of estimation made according to a rough and ready practical rule, not based on science or exact measurement. The 'rule of thumb' has been said to derive from the belief that English law allowed a man to beat his wife with a stick so long as it is was no thicker than his thumb. InJudge Sir Francis Buller is reported as having made this legal ruling and in the following year James Gillray published a satirical cartoon attacking Buller and caricaturing him as 'Judge Thumb'.
The English phrase rule of thumb refers to a principle with broad application that is not intended to be strictly accurate or reliable for every situation. It refers to an easily learned and easily applied procedure or standard, based on practical experience rather than theory. This usage of the phrase can be traced back to the seventeenth century, and has been associated with various trades where quantities were measured by comparison to the width or length of a thumb.
Attested since the late s. One theory notes that the inch originated as the distance between the base of the thumbnail and the first jointanother notes the practice of approximating the general direction of the wind by wetting the thumb then raising it in the air. Another theory notes that English royal banquet plate setters used the distance of their thumbs to equally space each plate from the table edge.
The expression originates from some forgotten literal context in which a craftsman or farmer used his thumb about an inch as a unit of measurement. Body parts have long been used as units of measurement. There used to be an article on this expression at Snopes.
A rule of thumb is a guideline that provides simplified advice regarding a particular subject. It is a general principle that gives practical instructions for accomplishing or approaching a certain task. Typically, rules of thumb develop as a result of practice and experience rather than from scientific research or theory.