exception proves the rule : Common Errors in English

About exception proves the rule

The Latin original of this saying dates back over two millennia to Cicero. It means if you make an exception to a rule, a rule must exist. If you say “in case of fire students may use the emergency exits” it is clear that the rule is that normally students are not supposed to use those exits. Few people understand this point and they misuse the phrase “the exception proves the rule” to mean that a rule is not really a rule unless there is an exception to it. This makes no sense. It’s better to simply avoid this misleading phrase.

exception proves the rule in News

  • Word Watch: Proving Linguistic Rules Gets Complicated

    Q: I have been wondering about the expression "the exception proves the rule." Can you elucidate? I'd be interested in its history and some examples to clarify the meaning. — Frank Aleman via email        
    on June 18, 2013 Source: Hartford Courant

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