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rule of thumb

a general or approximate principle, procedure, or rule based on experience or practice, as opposed to a specific, scientific calculation or estimate.
a rough, practical method of procedure.
Origin of rule of thumb
1685-95 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for rule of thumb
  • 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.
  • Everybody understands that, as a rule of thumb, more school means a bigger paycheck.
  • Twelve to fifteen books over a fifteen-week semester used to be the rule of thumb at selective colleges.
  • As a rule of thumb, lighter roasts are more acidic, while dark roasts are more bitter.
  • Another rule of thumb used to prevail among the better university presses.
  • The scientific rule of thumb is that one can never blame any one weather event on any single cause.
  • The rule of thumb is that when the two differ, go with the payroll survey.
British Dictionary definitions for rule of thumb

rule of thumb

  1. a rough and practical approach, based on experience, rather than a scientific or precise one based on theory
  2. (as modifier): a rule-of-thumb decision
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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rule of thumb in Culture

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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Idioms and Phrases with rule of thumb

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® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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