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"It is often claimed that the term originally referred to the maximum
thickness of a stick with which it was permissible for a man to beat
his wife. This explanation for the origin of the term was
popularized in the opening of the 1999 movie The Boondock Saints.
"Linguist Michael Quinion, citing the research of Sharon Fenick, notes
that there are some examples of a related usage historically — most
notably with regard to a supposed pronouncement by a British judge,
Sir Francis Buller. However, it is questionable whether Buller ever
made such a pronouncement and there is even less evidence that he
phrased it as a "rule of thumb"; the rumoured statement was so
unpopular that it caused him to be lambasted as "Judge Thumb" in a
satirical James Gillray cartoon. According to Quinion, the term "Rule
of Thumb" was first documented in English in 1692, long before
Buller's reported pronouncement. The first known usage of the phrase
"rule of thumb" in direct reference to domestic violence was in 1976,
in the book Battered Wives by Del Martin."
And, more pertinently:
"Origin of the term
The term "rule of thumb" or similar stands in many languages and
cultures for "quickly understood, easily used, practical method
yielding approximate results".
... which is how it was intended in this case, and much closer to the
context of the post.
Until next time...
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