Idiom: 'Exception that proves the rule'

What does 'Exception that proves the rule' mean?

Meaning: This expression is used by many to indicate that an exception in some way confirms a rule. Others say that the exception tests the rule. In its original legal sense, it meant that a rule could sometimes be inferred from an exemption or exception. In general use, the first meaning predominates nowadays, much to the annoyance of some pedants.

  • Category: Law

All idioms have been editorially reviewed, and submitted idioms may have been edited for correctness and completeness.

If you have a question about idioms, ask us about it in our Idioms Discussion Forum.

If you know of an idiom that you would like to be listed here, please use our online form to suggest an idiom.

See also: