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The exception proves the rule originally this meant that the recognition of something as an exception proved the existence of a rule, but it is now more often used or understood as justifying divergence from a rule. The saying is recorded in English from the mid 17th century, and a related Latin proverb is, ‘exceptio probat regulam in casibus non exceptis [the exception confirms the rule in cases not excepted].’

there is an exception to every rule proverbial saying, late 16th century. (Compare the exception proves the rule and rules are made to be broken.)

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