by the book

Idioms & Phrases

by the book

Strictly according to the rules, as in Our trip leader is going by the book, allowing us to wander off only for short periods. Shakespeare already used the term figuratively in Romeo and Juliet (1:5): "You kiss by the book." Also see by the numbers.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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