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work to rule

work to rule
 n.— «Teachers are now following the existing contract to the letter, a practice called “work to rule.” Teachers begin and end the work day specified in the contract and no earlier or later.» —“Westborough teacher contract talks heat up” by John Fenuccio MetroWest Daily News (Framingham, Massachusetts) Apr. 23, 2008. (source: Double-Tongued Dictionary)

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1 comment
  • This has been used, in England at least, for decades — at least since the 1950s when I first heard it, and I suspect much earlier. The derivation is from the union rule book.

    I haven’t looked up any references yet, but I am sure they will be easy to find.

Further reading

Spill the Tea (episode #1521)

If someone urges you to spill the tea, they probably don’t want you tipping over a hot beverage. Originally, the tea here was the letter T, as in “truth.” To spill the T means to “pass along truthful information.” Plus...

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