by the book

(redirected from play by the book)

*by the book

 and *by the numbers
following the rules exactly. (Alludes to a (numbered) book of rules. *Typically: go ~; do something ~; play ~; run something~.) The judge of the contest ran things strictly by the rules and disqualified us on a small technicality. Everyone insisted that we go by the numbers and not accept the proposal.
See also: book

by the book

as the rules demand Judge Neil runs his courtroom efficiently and by the book.
See also: book

by the book

Strictly according to the rules, as in Our trip leader is going by the book, allowing us to wander off only for short periods. Shakespeare already used the term figuratively in Romeo and Juliet (1:5): "You kiss by the book." Also see by the numbers.
See also: book
References in periodicals archive ?
Play by the Book has two levels of difficulty and is ideal for 2 to 6 players aged 8+.
Ane the one time we would have sanctioned some rigging, they decide to play by the book.
But whatever the future holds for the court, he says he won't let his own preferences color his reasoning: "I play by the book.