rule of thumb

Definitions

  • WordNet 3.6
    • n rule of thumb a rule or principle that provides guidance to appropriate behavior
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Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
  • Interesting fact: The phrase "rule of thumb" is derived from an old English law whichstated that you couldn't beat your wife with anything wider than yourthumb.
    • Rule of thumb any rude process or operation, like that of using the thumb as a rule in measuring; hence, judgment and practical experience as distinguished from scientific knowledge.
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Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
  • Interesting fact: Pumpkin rule of thumb: the darker the shell, the longer the pumpkin lasts.
    • Rule of thumb any rough process of measurement
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Idioms

Rule of thumb - Rule of thumb means approximately.
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Etymology

Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
O. Fr. reule (Fr. règle)—L. regularegĕre, to rule.

Usage

In literature:

At first, when he could not make everything fit his rule of thumb, he excused the country tolerantly as a "topsy-turvy" land.
"A Question of Latitude" by Richard Harding Davis
Various methods of "scaling" plates will be found among "Rules of Thumb.
"Getting Gold" by J. C. F. Johnson
Mr. Thacher characterizes the writer's method of calculating reinforced concrete chimneys as rule-of-thumb.
"Some Mooted Questions in Reinforced Concrete Design" by Edward Godfrey
And to this question, for the sake of consistency, one of two answers is required; failing which, there remains the rule of thumb.
"Logic" by Carveth Read
There is a rule of thumb that must be remembered.
"The Plattsburg Manual" by O.O. Ellis and E.B. Garey
Just a lot of it is "horse sense", with a few rules of thumb based upon scientific principles.
"Northern Nut Growers Association Report of the Proceedings at the Forty-Second Annual Meeting" by Northern Nut Growers Association
So he's a pretty good rule-of-thumb astrogator, too, and we're computing every element of the flight.
"Subspace Survivors" by E. E. Smith
But all rules of thumb are dangerous, and there are only two items which are essential.
"The Book of Business Etiquette" by Nella Henney
The French, then and afterwards, were more scientific, the English more rule-of-thumb.
"All Afloat" by William Wood
It was the old military rule of thumb.
"The Sequel" by George A. Taylor
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In news:

NEWS BLOG (WSAU) The rule of thumb in boxing is that to become the new champion, you have to knock out the current champion.
Phrases like "hold down the fort" and "rule of thumb" are potentially offensive.
There's no 'rule of thumb.
Rules of thumb come in handy at times.
The general rule of thumb is to deal with the owner, not the dog.
"The general rule of thumb for endowments is the draw rate should not exceed 5 percent," Campbell said.
Rules of thumb generally plead ignorance.
My basic rule of thumb on this one was to close my eyes and try to picture each team without certain key players.
But, like any rule of thumb, that isn't always particularly accurate.
Some rules of thumb to consider when old systems reach their final stages.
Thumbing through a stack of current menus from around town, "Kentucky Proud" is becoming the rule rather than the exception.
Lots of ways exist to analyze who won what in the 2012 election, but one simple rule of thumb provides many of the answers: If a place has sidewalks, odds are the residents voted Democratic.
From what I learned that evening, the rule of thumb on the topic is this: Unless they're wrestling, don't call little persons midgets .
But here's the general rule of thumb- if the cocktail's ingredients are all liquor, stir.
So as a good rule of thumb, ship your gifts before December 20, 2012, so you don't waste your money.
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In science:

Toomre’s criterion (22) is a good rule of thumb for deciding when self-gravity matters, but it misleads because it is derived for axisymmetric waves.
Forming Planetesimals in Solar and Extrasolar Nebulae
This means, the number of samples n needed to have a reliable confidence interval for a bin Bk depends on the number of bin entries. A rule of thumb from the statistics literature is that nqk (1 − qk ) > 9 should hold.
Introduction to Randomness and Statistics
Several different rules of thumb exist for uniform bin widths.
Introduction to Randomness and Statistics
So eventually, there is a trade-off between the requirements on memory times and local quantum gates, with the rule of thumb that only less efficient (in terms of fidelity) and more complex quantum error detection/correction schemes would lead to a reduced need for efficient memories [71, 72].
Optical hybrid approaches to quantum information
Therefore a general rule of thumb is to use the SCB when one wants to explore the overall pattern of the quantile curves and to implement the ISDT test when one is interested in verifying a specific parametric null.
Nonparametric inference of quantile curves for nonstationary time series
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