exception proves the rule, the

exception proves the rule, the

An instance that does not obey a rule shows that the rule exists. For example, John's much shorter than average but excels at basketball-the exception proves the rule . This seemingly paradoxical phrase is the converse of the older idea that every rule has an exception. [Mid-1600s]
See also: exception, prove
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.