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by the book

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According to established rules: “The inspector will be visiting the factory today, so let's make sure we do everything by the book.”

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The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

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Idioms and Phrases with by the book

by the book

Strictly according to the rules, as in Our trip leader is going by the book, allowing us to wander off only for short periods. Shakespeare already used the term figuratively in Romeo and Juliet (1:5): “You kiss by the book.” Also see by the numbers.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.
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