# Thread: a good rule of thumb

1. ## a good rule of thumb

Is it when you extand your fingers just to memorize something?

2. ## Re: a good rule of thumb

No :)

Rule of thumb - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"A rule of thumb is a principle with broad application that is not intended to be strictly accurate or reliable for every situation. It is an easily learned and easily applied procedure for approximately calculating or recalling some value, or for making some determination."

It's basically a "rough rule"; an approximate rule that gives you a basis to work from. As my mother used to say, it will give you an answer "good enough for gravy" and if anyone knows the origin of that phrase, I'd love to know!

3. ## Re: a good rule of thumb

Rule of thumb - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A rule of thumb is an inexact, yet useful principle. Think of a carpenter literally using his thumb to measure inches instead of using an official measuring tool.

4. ## Re: a good rule of thumb

Originally Posted by Tullia
No :)

Rule of thumb - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"A rule of thumb is a principle with broad application that is not intended to be strictly accurate or reliable for every situation. It is an easily learned and easily applied procedure for approximately calculating or recalling some value, or for making some determination."

It's basically a "rough rule"; an approximate rule that gives you a basis to work from. As my mother used to say, it will give you an answer "good enough for gravy" and if anyone knows the origin of that phrase, I'd love to know!
Fingers don't come into it - although they do, etymologically. If a carpenter couldn't be bothered to measure an inch precisely, he used the first joint of his thumb as an approximation. This method is enshrined in the French word pouce, which is both an inch (even in that metric world) and a thumb. (I believe the word 'rule' originally applied to the ruler he wasn't using; carpenters - and other craftsmen - call a ruler a 'rule'. [My wood-work teacher got most upset if anyone used the word 'ruler'.] But in the expression's present usage, the 'rule' is understood as a principle.)

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