the exception that proves the rule

the exception that proves the rule

That which contradicts or goes against a supposed rule, and therefore proves it in one's mind. 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, those are just the exceptions that prove the rule."
See also: exception, prove, rule, that

the exception that proves the rule

You say that something is the exception that proves the rule to mean that the example that you have just mentioned is not normal and is the opposite of what you usually find. Towers should generally be arranged in clusters, but the Post Office Tower was the exception that proved the rule — it needs to stand alone so that its signals are not interrupted. The most creative minds are often said to be the product of a problematic childhood, but Hornby must be the exception that proves the rule. Note: `Prove' here means `to test by experiment or analysis' rather than `to establish as true'. So, the meaning is that an exception tests a rule, not that it establishes the rule as true in all other situations.
See also: exception, prove, rule, that

the exception that proves the rule

a particular case that is so unusual that it is evidence of the validity of the rule that generally applies.
This phrase comes from the Latin legal maxim exceptio probat regulum in casibus non exceptis ‘exception proves the rule in the cases not excepted’. This in fact meant that the recognition of something as an exception proved the existence of a rule, but the idiom is popularly used or understood to mean ‘a person or thing that does not conform to the general rule affecting others of that class’
1998 Spectator The success of The Full Monty in the United States is an exception which proves the rule. On such lucky breaks, industries and economies are not built.
See also: exception, prove, rule, that

the exˈception that proves the ˈrule

(saying) people say that something is the exception that proves the rule when they are stating something that seems to be different from the normal situation, but they mean that the normal situation remains true in general: English people are supposed to be very reserved, but Pete is the exception that proves the rule — he’ll chat to anyone!
See also: exception, prove, rule, that
References in periodicals archive ?
As Tommy rightly said all those years ago, "none of 'em last", although he has been the exception that proves the rule.
But so many other major issues are probed, in a kind of Socratic style that refreshingly examines analytical questions from various angles, that this is the exception that proves the rule.
PowerPoint presentations might be just about synonymous with plodding university lectures and "bluesky thinking" nonsense seminars but this is the exception that proves the rule.
In a2007 interview with the North Carolina-based Indy Week , Haj said that few good plays were exploring "the Palestinian/ Israeli divide" but told the paperthat the 2005 drama My Name Is Rachel Corrie "may be the exception that proves the rule.
But there's always the exception that proves the rule - and James Acaster discovered it during a gig in Wolverhampton.
But San Francisco Ballet's 19-year-old Isabella DeVivo is the exception that proves the rule.
Iron ore would be the exception that proves the rule.
Its wow factor aside, Schilthuizen calls the genital role reversal "important because it is the exception that proves the rule of sexual selection.
But if that's true, then surely Resnais himself is the exception that proves the rule.
Mr Murphy should come and meet George who, while disarmingly modest, exudes self-confi-dence Then again, gifted George is probably the exception that proves the rule.
Monday in Boston is the exception that proves the rule - deadly incidents of terrorism have become less common.
The exception that proves the rule might be the case of Korea and the UAE, where Korea's purchase of oil has been complimented by its supply of the UAE's nuclear power station.
6--The Hangover of Revolution in My Home, 2002, featuring all the objects from Hong's house relating to the Cultural Revolution era, served as the exception that proves the rule, making explicit the tension between Communist history and the consumerist present.
Mark Johnston's Laa Rayb won last year from a low stall and at odds of 25-1, but that is the exception that proves the rule in this heritage handicap.
America's loss in Vietnam is the most obvious counterexample; Beckley suggests it is the exception that proves the rule.