Re: "rule of thumb"

Subject: Re: "rule of thumb"
From: Pat Madea <madea -at- MMSI -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 17 Nov 1995 13:57:35 MST

Karen Mayer writes:

>> Your (and others') use of the term "rule of thumb" reminded me of what
>> 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
>> the diameter of his thumb. Thus it was the "Rule of Thumb." Lovely.

John Wilcox responds with what I always understood the statement to mean:

>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.

In a broad sense, I understand a Rule of Thumb to be a rough
approximation, a general rule, an imprecise guideline. As such, there
are many Rules of Thumb.

I've never heard Karen's father's definition and it sounds like
someone's leg (or thumb) might have been pulled.

However, Karen's father's definition contains just enough
"believeable" elements in it that it makes "sense," doesn't it? So it
must be true thereby creating all kinds of other problems...

madea // madea -at- mmsi -dot- com

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