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Subject:Re: "rule of thumb" From:"Susan M. Leslie" <sleslie -at- NEOSOFT -dot- COM> Date:Fri, 17 Nov 1995 08:55:42 -0600
Some years ago I attended a talk by a Texas attorney to the League of Women
Voters covering how Texas law effects women. The phrase "rule of thumb"
came up and the attorney told us it dates back to English common law and a
judge's ruling that men could beat their wives as long as the dismeter of
the stick was no bigger than their thumb. So I believe the first poster was
correct except for the time frame. (As y'all probably know, US law is based
on English common law.) Perhaps, as many times happens, there are two
anticedents of the term. Whatever the case, because of widespread believe
in the legal heritage of the term a lot of women prefer it not be used.
>> > (My Dad told me)...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.
>> 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.