rule of thumb

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rule of thumb

An approximation; a suggested method or guideline. A good rule of thumb is to plant your seedlings around the end of May.
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rule of thumb

a general principle developed through experiential rather than scientific means. As a rule of thumb, I move my houseplants outside in May. Going by a rule of thumb, we stop for gas every 200 miles when we are traveling.
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rule of thumb

A rough and useful principle or method, based on experience rather than precisely accurate measures. For example, His work with the youth group is largely by rule of thumb. This expression alludes to making rough estimates of measurements by using one's thumb. [Second half of 1600s]
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a rule of thumb

COMMON A rule of thumb is a general rule about something which is right in most cases. As a rule of thumb, drink a glass of water or pure fruit juice every hour you are travelling. A good rule of thumb for any type of studio photography is to use no more light sources than are strictly necessary. Note: This expression probably dates back to the use of the first joint of the thumb as a unit of measurement.
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rule of thumb

a broadly accurate guide or principle, based on experience or practice rather than theory.
1998 New Scientist The best forecast of tomorrow's weather in any one place often comes not from a supercomputer, but from the rule of thumb that says: tomorrow it will be similar to today.
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a rule of ˈthumb

a quick, practical, but not exact, way of measuring or calculating something: As a rule of thumb you need a litre of paint to every 12 square metres of wall.This phrase may come from the fact that people often used their thumbs to estimate measurements.
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References in periodicals archive ?
The rule-of-thumb approach has the potential to be used widely because it is presented in Quinn and Deriso (1999) and stock assessment manuals of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO; Sparre and Venema, 1998; Cadima, 2003).
With the rule-of-thumb approach, the fraction of a population that survives to a given age is used to estimate M.
It can be shown to be of the same form as the rule-of-thumb approach as follows:
The rule-of-thumb approach appears to have arisen independently in four different places.
Nonetheless, the rule-of-thumb approach certainly has the potential to be used widely, given its repeated presentation in fishery literature and its accumulated momentum in blue crab work.
Given the results of our comparison, we recommend that the regression estimator be used instead of the rule-of-thumb approach when longevity is used to predict M.
Many industries and professions use rule-of-thumb formulas to determine value, but such formulas alone may not provide appropriate valuations.