"rule of thumb"

Subject: "rule of thumb"
From: John Wilcox <john -at- SYNTAX -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 16 Nov 1995 10:32:55 -0800

> Date: Thu, 16 Nov 1995 09:29:01 EST
> From: Karen Mayer <Karen_Mayer -dot- TOUCH_TECHNOLOGY -at- NOTES -dot- COMPUSERVE -dot- COM>
> Subject: Re: hyphenating and hypothecating - a hypothesis

> Your (and others') use of the term "rule of thumb" reminded me of what my
> dad told me was the origin of that phrase. He says that not too long ago
> the law stated that a man could beat his wife with a stick no larger than
> the diameter of his thumb. Thus it was the "Rule of Thumb." Lovely.

Oh, dear, I guess I'm going to have to whittle mine down.

Sorry, but I doubt the truth of your dad's statement. I thought the
term came from carpentry, wherein the width of one's thumb could be used
to approximate an inch.

Other theories?

John Wilcox <john -at- syntax -dot- com>
Senior Technical Writer
Syntax, Inc., 840 S. 333rd St., Federal Way, WA 98003-6343 USA
voice 206-838-2626, fax 206-838-9836, http://www.syntax.com

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