rule of thumb

noun
1.
a general or approximate principle, procedure, or rule based on experience or practice, as opposed to a specific, scientific calculation or estimate.
2.
a rough, practical method of procedure.

Origin:
1685–95

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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
rule of thumb
 
n
a.  a rough and practical approach, based on experience, rather than a scientific or precise one based on theory
 b.  (as modifier): a rule-of-thumb decision

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

rule of thumb definition


A practical principle that comes from the wisdom of experience and is usually but not always valid: “When playing baseball, a good rule of thumb is to put your best hitter fourth in the batting order.”

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

rule of thumb

A rough and useful principle or method, based on experience rather than precisely accurate measures. For example, His work with the youth group is largely by rule of thumb. This expression alludes to making rough estimates of measurements by using one's thumb. [Second half of 1600s]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
There is a simple rule of thumb that can be applied toward multiple solutions:
  don't expend energy in order to dissipate energy.
The rule of thumb was that the final exam on average dropped a student between
  one and two letter grades.
The rule of thumb is the higher the value, the darker the color.
And another rule of thumb: whenever beliefs get involved, don't trust anyone.
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