Rule of Thumb

Rule of Thumb: Definition and Examples of this Popular Idiomatic Term

You may have heard someone using the term rule of thumb many times during a conversation, but what is the meaning of this phrase? We are going to take a look at the meaning of the term as well as finding out where it came from in the first place. We will also look at some examples of the phrase in use so that we can better understand how it fits into daily conversation.

Rule of Thumb

Rule of Thumb Meaning

The term rule of thumb refers to a general way of doing something that is not particularly precise of accurate but is the most common and known way to complete the task at hand.

Rule of Thumb Origin

The phrase rule of thumb finds its origins in English history when men were permitted to bash their wives physically provided that the rod they used was no thicker than their own thumb. This concept was commonplace in the 1700s.

Other Ways to Say “Rule of Thumb”

There are many other ways in which you might express the meaning of the idiomatic term rule of thumb, here are some examples of other things you might say which carry the same meaning.

List of “rule of thumb” synonyms:

  • General rule
  • Ground rule
  • Golden rule
  • Gold standard
  • Key principle

“Rule of Thumb” Examples

Example Sentences

The saying rule of thumb is a common one heard in English, we will now look at some examples of the phrase in use.

The first statement is being made by an employer.

  • If you are struggling with the software, a good rule of thumb is to restart the computer.

This next sentence is from a blog post.

  • I apply all of my make up with a sponge as a rule of thumb.

Conversation Examples

There may be many different types of conversation in which you might hear the term rule of thumb, we are now going to take a look at some examples of this.

The first conversation is taking place between a father and son.

  • Person 1: “I have passed my driving test.”
  • Person 2: “Well done but you must remember to drive safely.”
  • Person 1: “I will, I have a rule of thumb that I do not drive faster than 50mph.”

The next conversation is taking place between a plumber and a client.

  • Person 1: “I have finished the work on your sink.”
  • Person 2: “Why was it clogged up?”
  • Person 1: “There was a backlog of dirt in the pipe, a good rule of thumb is to clean the pipe monthly.”

Other examples:

  • A good rule of thumb is that a broker must generate sales of ten times his salary if his employer is to make a profit.
  • As a rule of thumb, you should cook a chicken for 20 minutes for each pound that it weighs.
  • In general, the rule of thumb was that one’s peers were seconded to perform the role.
  • The rule of thumb is that XML expands by a factor of ten when reading into memory.
  • You should tip bellmen $1- $2 per bag, as a rule of thumb.

Rule of Thumb Meaning | Picture

Rule of Thumb

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Judy Hante
Judy Hante
2 months ago

I agree with most of your examples under Rule of Thumb, although some of them would be better described as habits. I drive no faster than 50 mph is not so much a rule of thumb as a habit. A Rule of Thumb is better described in some of your other examples, like moving plants outside in early May. It is incorrect (but widely stated) that the term Rule of Thumb comes from how thick of a stick a man can use to beat his wife. The term Rule of Thumb pre-dates that stick thickness ruling by many decades. It… Read more »

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