rule of thumb

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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