by the numbers

Idioms & Phrases

by the numbers

In a strict sequence, step-by-step; also, mechanically. For example, The only way to assemble this computer is to do it by the numbers, or Writing a novel is not something one can do by the numbers. This expression has nothing to do with actual numerical figures (like by the dozen) but uses numbers in the sense of a strict order or sequence.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
Cite This Source
Explore Dictionary.com
Previous Definition: by the dozen
Next Definition: by the same token
Words Near: by the numbers
More from Thesaurus.com
Synonyms and Antonyms for by the numbers
More from Reference.com
Search for articles containing by the numbers
More from Dictionary.com Translator
Dictionary.com Word FAQs

Dictionary.com presents 366 FAQs, incorporating some of the frequently asked questions from the past with newer queries.

Copyright © 2014 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature