How Did ‘Rule of Thumb’ Become a Saying?

rule of thumb

There are many terms you probably hear so much—or say so much—that you rarely stop to think about how funny they sound or wonder how they originated; for instance, how many times have you found yourself uttering a saying like, “well rule of thumb says…” meaning this is how something supposedly should be done, and often is thought of as a general principal based on practice, often approximated. And obviously, you probably aren’t using your thumb for a ruler, although hundreds of years ago, that may have been the idea as a thumb was supposed to be a good measurement for an inch. Check out your thumb though, and you can see that probably wasn’t very accurate at all for anyone!

The term is said to have come about in the 1600’s and may have actually been connected to marital law in England. The law may have said something closely related to the idea that a husband could beat his wife with a stick, as long as it was no thicker than his thumb, although many think this could be a myth too (the Idioms). Typical examples of using this idiom in context might be that as a rule of thumb, you add pasta to a pot once the water starts boiling, or as a rule of thumb, you never work past 4 p.m.

There are also many other very amusing rules of thumb you may never have heard, offering tips for etiquette (even that of cell phones), how to dress (if your shirttails hang below the palms of your hands, tuck them in), when to take your car in for repairs (never on the weekends), where to sit on an airplane (that depends), and more.

In the legal world, the way words are construed can make a huge difference in a case—and as we deal with insurance policies and insurers acting in bad faith far too often, it is important to delve into the truth of words, as well as dissecting exactly what is meant in something like an insurance policy. This can be extremely difficult in some cases if you are not a legal professional, and if you are going through an issue that feels exasperating (and frightening) to handle on your own, call us for help as soon as possible.

If you need help reviewing your insurance policy, or if you suspect your insurance company may be denying your claim in bad faith, contact the attorneys at the Bolender Law Firm.  If a dispute over a claim cannot be easily resolved through a call or written communication, our attorneys will advocate on behalf of policyholders through litigation, arbitration, or non-binding mediation. Our attorneys are experienced in representing clients in state and federal courts, at both the trial and appellate level. Call us at 310-320-0725 now or submit an easy consultation request online. We are here to help!

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