Posted by Erin on November 19, 2000
In Reply to: "The exception that proves the rule" posted by joel on November 19, 2000
: : : What kind of sense does "the exception that proves the rule" make?
: : : Patty
In terms of usage, you will often hear scientists use this phrase as a short-hand for the value of anomolies (exceptions) in overturning old paradigms (rules) and establishing new ones.
Obviously this is not the origin of the phrase (the earlier poster is right about the origin, I think) but it is one usuage of it that may help you see what kind of sense it makes.