exception proves the rule, the

exception proves the rule, the
   A widely misunderstood expression. As a moments thought should confirm, it isn't possible for an exception to confirm a rule-but then, that isnt the sense that was originally intended. Prove here is a "fossil"-that is, a word or phrase that is now generally meaningless except within the confines of certain sayings (hem and haw, rank andfile, and to andfro are other fossil expressions). Originally prove meant test (it comes from the Latin probare, "to test"), so "the exception proves the rule" meant-and really still ought to mean-that the exception tests the rule. The original meaning of prove is preserved more clearly in two other expressions: proving ground and the proof of the pudding is in the eating.

Dictionary of troublesome word. . 2013.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • the exception proves the rule — 1. The existence of an exception to a supposed rule proves the general truth of the rule (often used in argument when no such conclusion is justified) 2. A distorted translation of a part of a legal Latin phrase meaning ‘the making of an… …   Useful english dictionary

  • the exception proves the rule — ‘The very fact of an exception proves there must be a rule’ (Brewer); now frequently misunderstood and used to justify inconsistency. Cf. L. exceptio probat regulam in casibus non exceptis, the exception confirms the rule in cases not excepted.… …   Proverbs new dictionary

  • the exception proves the rule — ► the exception proves the rule proverb the fact that some cases do not follow a rule proves that the rule applies in all other cases. Main Entry: ↑exception …   English terms dictionary

  • exception proves the rule — Something unusual that does not follow a rule tests that rule to see if it is true; if there are too many exceptions, the rule is no good. A proverb. * /Frank is very short but is a good basketball player. He is the exception that proves the rule …   Dictionary of American idioms

  • exception proves the rule — Something unusual that does not follow a rule tests that rule to see if it is true; if there are too many exceptions, the rule is no good. A proverb. * /Frank is very short but is a good basketball player. He is the exception that proves the rule …   Dictionary of American idioms

  • exception\ proves\ the\ rule — proverb Something unusual that does not follow a rule tests that rule to see if it is true; if there are too many exceptions, the rule is no good. Frank is very short but is a good basketball player. He is the exception that proves the rule …   Словарь американских идиом

  • exception proves the rule —    If something is different from a general belief or theory, it shows that the belief or theory is true.     Most teenagers love fast food, but Ben is the exception that proves the rule he s the only one of our children who insists on healthy… …   English Idioms & idiomatic expressions

  • exception proves the rule — (an exception to the rule) someone or smth which differs from the usual, the normal, or some principle, rule or theory …   Idioms and examples

  • the exception proves the rule — (an exception to the rule) someone or smth which differs from the usual, the normal, or some principle, rule or theory …   Idioms and examples

  • Exception that proves the rule — The exception [that] proves the rule is a frequently confused English idiom. The original meaning of this idiom is that the presence of an exception establishes that a general rule exists. Fowler s Modern English Usage identifies five ways in… …   Wikipedia

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