by the numbers

Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
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See also: by-the-numbers


Alternative forms[edit]


The origin of this phrase goes back to the American Revolutionary War where a book containing numbered positions for rifle and bayonet practice was used to train soldiers. In the book, each diagram was numbered.

Prepositional phrase[edit]

by the numbers

  1. (idiomatic) to do something exactly, precisely, or in a formulaic way.