According to Hoyle or According to Cocker – Origin & Meaning

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

When you’re playing a game, and someone insists on following the rules to the letter, you might hear the phrase according to Hoyle. But who the heck is Hoyle, and why are we following his rules? Don’t worry, after I explain all the details, you’ll be able to add this saying to your vocabulary with confidence!

Meaning of According to Hoyle

According to Hoyle or According to Cocker Origin Meaning

The phrase according to Hoyle means to do something strictly according to the rules or authority. I’ve seen it more commonly used in card games, but it can also be used more broadly to mean doing something in a manner that’s considered super correct or officially endorsed.

According to Cocker or According to Hoyle

According to Hoyle vs According to Cocker Ngram
According to Hoyle and according to Cocker usage trend.

Okay, according to Hoyle is the more widely used phrase of the two, but according to Cocker is also accepted and holds a similar meaning. But the latter is less known and refers to Edward Cocker, an English author renowned for his arithmetic textbooks in the 17th century.

According to Hoyle Origin and Etymology

The phrase is named after Edmond Hoyle, an English lawyer, writer and teacher who wrote comprehensive books specifically on the rules of card games and board games like backgammon and even chess in the 18th century.

His detailed rule books were so influential that according to Hoyle became synonymous with following the official rules of just about anything.

There was also a movie made back in the 1920s called “According to Hoyle.” It was a silent film that told the tale of a hobo who follows the apparent rules of how to be successful in life.

Synonyms for According to Hoyle

If this phrase is a bit too odd for you, then try one of these simpler phrases that get the same message across.

  • By the book
  • To the letter
  • In true light 
  • Strictly according to the rules
  • With exactness
  • Down to the last detail

Using According to Hoyle in a Sentence

According to Hoyle or According to Cocker Origin Meaning 1
  • We set up the tent according to Hoyle, following the instruction manual step by step, but we still messed it up.
  • The month-long audit was conducted according to Hoyle, leaving no stone unturned.
  • I swear, all the legal procedures were suitable and completed according to Hoyle.
  • Mary always runs the meetings according to Hoyle and ensures each point on the agenda is addressed in proper order.
  • My kid made sure to solve the puzzle according to Hoyle, without skipping any steps.
  • The publishing project was executed according to Hoyle, resulting in a flawless final book design.
  • The troops lined up according to Hoyle, perfectly straight and orderly.
  • My grandmother baked the cake according to Hoyle, not deviating from the recipe at all, just to prove that her homemade cake was better.

Play by the Rules

And now you know the history and meaning of according to Hoyle. Whenever you find yourself playing a card game, and someone insists on following the rules to the letter, you’ll know exactly what to say. So remember, whether you’re following a recipe, solving a puzzle or planning a project, doing things according to Hoyle will always keep you on the straight and narrow!

Enjoyed reading about this idiom? Check out some others we covered: