the exception proves the rule

the exception proves the rule

That which contradicts or goes against a supposed rule therefore proves that it is almost always true. A: "Video games are all just mindless filth that rots kids' brains." B: "I don't know, a lot of them let kids express themselves creatively or learn about the world in new ways." A: "Bah, the exceptions just prove the rule."
See also: exception, prove, rule

The exception proves the rule.

Prov. Something that does not follow a rule shows that the rule exists. (Often used facetiously, to justify some rule you have proposed but which someone else has listed exceptions. From a Latin phrase meaning that an exception tests a rule.) Ellen: Men are always rude. Jane: But Alan's always polite. And Larry and Ted are polite, too. Ellen: They're just the exceptions that prove the rule. Bill: All the shows on TV are aimed at people with low intelligence. Alan: What about that news program you like to watch? Bill: The exception proves the rule.
See also: exception, prove, rule
References in periodicals archive ?
In an observation that demonstrates how the exception proves the rule, the French folk song sounds the least like Ravel; "his unique musical language is subverted through another kind of artifice, one that favors redefining a self in the context of these songs" (p.
We all know of such cases, but as is usually true, the exception proves the rule.
So the exception proves the rule really means that the exception tests the rule - a meaning far different from the way the expression is now used.
In this case, however, the exception proves the rule of a dominant ideology, since Hazlitt, in his public disagreement with Gifford over Coriolanus, is forced into a beleagured and defensive position against the unrelenting tirade of conservative abuse he faced.
His theory of government regulations is that the exception proves the rule.