What does rule of thumb mean?

Definitions for rule of thumb
rule of thumb

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word rule of thumb.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. guidepost, guideline, rule of thumbnoun

    a rule or principle that provides guidance to appropriate behavior


  1. rule of thumbnoun

    A general guideline, rather than a strict rule; an approximate measure or means of reckoning based on experience or common knowledge.

  2. rule of thumbnoun

    Approximated, guesstimated.

  3. Etymology: Michael Quinion lists the first documented use as 1692 while The Oxford English Dictionary puts the first documented use at 1685. Some suggested origins include the fact that the inch originated as the distance between the base of the thumbnail and the first joint, the practice of approximating the general direction of the wind by wetting the thumb then raising it in the air, and the rule of English Royal banquet plate setters using the distance of the thumb to equally space each plate from the table edge. Apocryphally, it has been claimed the term originally referred to the maximum thickness of a stick with which it was permissible for a man to beat his wife, but the earliest use in direct reference to domestic violence may be Del Martin’s 1976 book Battered Wives.


  1. rule of thumb

    A rule of thumb is a broadly applicable guideline or principle, usually based on experience or common sense, that provides a general approach or method for handling certain situations or problems. It is not intended to be strictly accurate or reliable in every situation, but rather acts as a practical and useful guide.


  1. Rule of thumb

    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. Compare this to heuristic, a similar concept used in mathematical discourse, psychology, and computer science, particularly in algorithm design.

Dictionary of Nautical Terms

  1. rule of thumb

    That rule suggested by a practical rather than a scientific knowledge. In common matters it means to estimate by guess, not by weight or measure.

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How to pronounce rule of thumb?

How to say rule of thumb in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of rule of thumb in Chaldean Numerology is: 7

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of rule of thumb in Pythagorean Numerology is: 6

Examples of rule of thumb in a Sentence

  1. Russell Foster:

    What it probably will do is increase levels of alertness and therefore delay sleep onset ... it's a good rule of thumb to reduce light exposure.

  2. Raj Dasgupta:

    Now you don't want to be a weirdo and start measuring your loved one's neck build at night, the rule of thumb is always going to be a collar size of greater than 17 inches( 43 centimeters) for a male, and greater than 16 inches( 40.6 centimeters) for a female will put you at a higher risk for sleep apnea.

  3. Dejan Ilijevski:

    [For student loan debt] a general rule of thumb is to take out no more than the expected yearly salary of the college major

  4. Jen Luciana:

    A general rule of thumb is a year, but if it’s a bra you don’t wear very often, you could have it for three years. It all depends on how often you wear it and how well you take care of it.

  5. Ben Lieberman:

    If advanced appliances make sense for consumers, they would sell themselves without mandates, i think that's a good rule of thumb with very, very few exceptions. Consumers are smart shoppers. These mandates force one-size-fits-all solutions on everybody. No two homes are exactly alike, no two homeowners are exactly alike.

Translations for rule of thumb

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"rule of thumb." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 27 Feb. 2024. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/rule+of+thumb>.

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    greatly exceeding bounds of reason or moderation
    • A. irascible
    • B. usurious
    • C. repugnant
    • D. ostensive

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