I was reading this news item and came across this sentence.
Melanie Zanona at Politico this morning is running the rule over some of the eager young Trumpist Republicans in the House who might be eyeing up the Senate seats that are about to become vacant in the next election cycle.
I was struck by the phrase ‘running the rule’ because I had never heard that idiom before. The context in which it appears does not make clear what it means. The plain language seems to suggest applying some rule but since the rule itself was not specified and is not obvious, that does not help in deciphering the meaning.
Merriam-Webster does not recognize it. The Cambridge dictionary says it is “to examine something to see if it is good enough or right for a particular purpose”. Wiktionary says that to run the rule is to “examine carefully and thoroughly” but Lexico says that it means to “examine cursorily for correctness or adequacy”.
So we have three different meanings. One is just to examine, the other is to examine carefully, and the third is to examine cursorily.
I think I will avoid using the phrase.