Date: Wed, 12 Nov 1997 00:38:24 -0500

From: Gregory {Greg} Downing downingg[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]IS2.NYU.EDU

Subject: Re: Rima's rule of thumb

At 11:19 PM 11/11/97 -0600, you (Donald Lance) wrote:

I've always assumed, and have heard so from others, that the rule of thumb

refers to the use of the last joint of the thumb to be an approximation of

an inch. It's not too mucn of a stretch to imagine a taylor or seamstress

measuring the distance from the tip of the thumb or index finger to a spot

that would be an inch from the tip and then using that spot in making "rule

of thumb" measurements. My mother used a spot about so far past the first

crease in the index finger on her left hand. And it's not too much of a

stretch to see sailors (or pirates) using the thickness of the thumb or the

length of the first joint to determine whether a rope would be strong

enough for certain tasks.

Well, I guess it seems as if it would be likely to be something like this

(though other sources talk about the distance from thumb to thumb with arms

stretched out to each side from the shoulders etc.). But there's always the

problem o them consarn cites and/or other ancillary or suggestive evidence.

Greg Downing/NYU, at greg.downing[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE] or downingg[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]