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Exception and rule

Posted by Henry on February 23, 2004

In Reply to: Exception and rule posted by R. Berg on February 23, 2004

: : I am trying to find the meaning of this phrase "exception and not the rule" or the other way around "the rule and not the exception". Thank you

: Neither of those is a standard phrase that I know of. There's a saying "The exception proves the rule," in which "proves" has the old meaning of "tests."

Something out of the ordinary which does not conform to usual behaviour is an exception to the rule. For example; This shop is open every day except Christmas Day. Christmas Day is different and 'proves' the rule.

Yes, beware the meaning of 'prove'! It is widely misunderstood in this context. Christmas Day 'proves' the rule that the shop is open every day. In this sense it does not demonstrate that the rule is correct, it tests whether it is correct or not. In this case it shows that the rule is not always true.