“the exception proves the rule”
Wow, this is actually a fairly complicated idiom. I agree with wikipedia that this is more appropriately recognized as an “idiom” rather than an “aphorism” as I’ve categorized it. The phrase originated in medieval times. It was based on a legal principle: “exceptio probat regulam in casibus non exceptis” (“the exception confirms the rule in cases not excepted”).
As always, please comment if you have any further analysis of this particular aphorism (or if you disagree with my analysis) – or if you have a good story!
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