Dear Ann Landers,
I would like your help in eliminating a phrase from our vocabulary. It is "rule of thumb." This may seem innocuous to you, but the history of the phrase could make you change your mind.
Before enlightenment and more civilized thinking, there were rules regarding when and how a man could beat a woman. For example, he could not beat her on Sundays and was not allowed to beat her with a stick that was thicker than the breadth of his thumb. Hence the expression "rule of thumb."
I think we should eliminate that phrase from our vocabularies out of respect for the abused women of the world. Will you help? -- New Rules in Grand Forks, N.D.
I don't recall ever having used that phrase, and now that I know the origin, I doubt that I ever will. Thanks for the info.