As a rule

Posted by Fred on February 19, 2005

In Reply to: As a rule posted by ESC on February 19, 2005

: : : I need a good meaning of this cliche "rules were made to be broken" thanks.

: : Rules are for the guidance of wise men and the obedience of fools. Standard conduct is justified in most situations. However, the rules should not be followed blindly. In exceptional circumstances, there may be a more effective procedure.

: RULES ARE MADE TO BE BROKEN - The existence of rules makes it likely that people will break them, sometimes for the better. The proverb has been traced back to 1953 and is found in 'Expedition to Earth' by Arthur C. Clarke. First cited in the United States in 1960. It is listed in the 1989 collection of 'Modern Proverbs and Proverbial Sayings' by Barlett Jere Whitling and in the 1992 A Dictionary of American Proverbs by Wolfgang Mieder et al." From Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings by Gregory Y. Titelman.

: Along those lines:

: It is helpful to know the proper way to behave,
: So one can decide whether or not to be proper.

: ("Ella Enchanted," by Gail Carson Levine, 1997. Quoted in "What the Dormouse Said: Lessons for Grown-ups from Children's Books," collected by Amy Gash and illustrated by Pierre Le-Tan. )

Henry, not Titelman, has it right. The emphasis is on what should happen rather than what will happen.