Re: Rule of Thumb

Subject: Re: Rule of Thumb
From: Sanford Carr <spcarr -at- NEBULA -dot- ISPACE -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 20 Nov 1995 13:08:35 -500

Personally, I like Tech Writers who have a consciousness of the murky
origins of idiom, even if they're feminists. The existance of the
17th century law isn't at issue - its role in the origin of the
phrase "Rule of Thumb" is much less certain. The citation given
doesn't address the correlation at all.

The Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins (1977) defines "Rule
of Thumb" as: "A rough or guesswork estimate based more upon
experience than on precise measurement." It gives two possible
origins: the first the earlier mentioned thumb width - one inch
relation, the other relating to a brewmaster's ability to gauge
temperature by sticking a thumb in the mix.

Making use of "Rule of Thumb" a litmus test for sensitivity to
violence against women is neo-political, oppressive, and of
questionable validity. It is, however, so emotionally charged that
I'm going to lose another good phrase from my repetoire.

Gina wrote:
> Leg Pulling?
> Yes, lo and behold, there is a history to violence against women. The
> legal function of the 'rule of thumb' is documented.
> Now I suppose I have to state that I'm not a raving feminist.
> Personally, I like Tech Writers that have historical consciousness.
> Even if they're male.

> Eastman, PSU

> On Fri, 17 Nov 1995, Pat Madea wrote:

> > Karen Mayer writes:
> >
> > >> Your (and others') use of the term "rule of thumb" reminded me of
> > 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.
> >
> > 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
> >

Sanford Carr spcarr -at- nebula -dot- ispace -dot- com
Palmetto Group
Strategic solutions for small business management.
Sanford Carr spcarr -at- nebula -dot- ispace -dot- com
Palmetto Group
Strategic solutions for small business management.

Previous by Author: Re: Problems with RTFTOHTML
Next by Author: Re: Tech Writers that can't write a Resume
Previous by Thread: Re: Rule of thumb
Next by Thread: Re: Rule of Thumb

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads