rule of thumb


rule of thumb

Meaning | Synonyms

  • a principle that is kept to
  • a guide that is based on practice rather than theory
  • a general principle that comes through experience and not any scientific means
  • a practical and approximate way

Example Sentences

  1. As a rule of thumb, I do not start a new project on Fridays.
  2. A good rule of thumb is to add the ingredients when the water starts to boil.
  3. During our boot camp in the jungle, we used to drink a glass of water every two hours as a rule of thumb.
  4. Going by the rule of thumb, it would take two hours to compile the data in each of these files.
  5. As a rule of thumb, we never went camping near water bodies during the rains.
  6. A useful rule of thumb in serving food is that two handfuls make a portion.


This phrase has been used since the 1600s and the origin is usually attributed to domestic violence, however, there is no proof of the theory. There was a belief that law in England allowed a man to beat his wife with a stick which was not thicker than his thumb. However, it has been found that such a law did not exist. Also, the phrase has been in use before this law was believed to have existed. The real origin of the phrase, therefore, is not known.

Share your opinions3 Opinions

The rule of thumb may have originally come from the miller’s technique of rubbing freshly ground flour between the thumb and forefinger to test the grind, course to fine, of the flour or meal. This was especially true when partially automated mills originally powered by water, vastly increased milling speed. A misadjusted milestone would quickly ruin the flour and the miller’s profits, so the rule of thumb was critical to the success of any mill.

‒ John Dho November 24, 2021

“Rule of Thumb” is a phrase that one abides by as a “go to” theory they may use in their personal practice or of their choosing. If it is a “rule of thumb” perhaps it is a habit they adhere to because it is easy to remember. It may not rely on a specific amount in a recipe. EXAMPLE: “Sara’s ‘rule of thumb’ is to put in ‘two shakes’ of salt (verses an exact measurement) when she makes soup. Megan though, has a rule of thumb that measures 1 1/2 teaspoons for each pint of the soups she makes.

‒ Mo’ to the Point! June 20, 2020

Rule of the thumb means the most common way of doing things.

‒ cnjssanmd May 23, 2020

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