golden rule

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golden rule (plural golden rules)

  1. (idiomatic) A fundamental rule or principle.
    • 1859, Charles Darwin, chapter 10, in On the Origin of Species:
      It is all-important to remember that naturalists have no golden rule by which to distinguish species and varieties.
    • 1943 March and April, T. F. Cameron, “The Preparation of Timetables”, in Railway Magazine, page 75:
      There is one golden rule of timetable work, that if a passenger train never runs to time it must be altered or other trains must be altered so that it can shake off its chronic unpunctuality.
  2. (ethics) The principle that one should treat other people in the manner in which one would want to be treated by them.
    • 1818, Sir Walter Scott, chapter 2, in Rob Roy:
      "Mr. Francis seems to understand the fundamental principle of all moral accounting, the great ethic rule of three. Let A do to B, as he would have B do to him; the product will give the rule of conduct required." My father smiled at this reduction of the golden rule to arithmetical form.
  3. (law, England & Wales, idiomatic) A method of statutory interpretation, whereby a judge will deviate from a literal interpretation of the law to the extent necessary to circumvent obvious absurdities or (sometimes) conclusions repugnant to public policy.
    Coordinate terms: plain meaning rule, mischief rule


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.

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