American law specifying that a man can beat his wife with a stick no thicker than his thumb? | Radical Reference
Overall, there doesn't look to be one concrete answer on this that everyone agrees on, but the following references might shed both lightweight on it for you... Commentary: lodging Violence, Folk Etymologies, & "Rule of Thumb".
Where does "rule of thumb" come from? Not legalized wife beating. | Stuff Mom Never Told You
In our happening on egg-producing astronauts, topminnow and I perpetuated a myth during our listener mail segment. We read an electronic mail close to the supposed history of the passage "rule of thumb," linking it to an old law about wife beating. As the myth goes, "rule of thumb" relates to a British law, allowing a husband to beat his wife with a stick, as long as it isn't wider than the man's thumb. As a number of listeners have since written in to verbalise us, that "rule of thumb" theory is f. fiction. In humanistic discipline common law, "rule of thumb" was ne'er the law of the land, either.
Does “rule of thumb” refer to an old law permitting wife beating? – The Straight Dope
Dear Cecil: Recently in a conversation I used the expression "rule of thumb," which I soul e'er taken to mean a technique for inward at a intelligent estimate. For added than 300 period “rule of thumb” has meant what most people advisement it means: any rough-and-ready method of estimating. A socio-economic class in our group took me to task, however, revelation me that the communication originally referred to an old legal law that a man was allowed to heartbeat his partner with a stick provided the diameter did not excel the width of his thumb. What new seemingly innocent phrases hold in old wrongs? It’s believed to rich person originated with woodworkers, who ready-made measurements with their thumbs. once I expressed my disbelief, several others chimed in that they had detected the same story. For more than 20 years, however, approximately feminists have maintained that rule of thumb has the darker meaning alluded to above.