Wednesday WOLF - The Exception Proves the Rule

I've got a collection of random information in my brain that makes me an awesome Trivial Pursuit partner, but is completely useless when it comes to real world application. Like say, job applications.

I thought I'd share some of this random crap with you in the form of another acronym-ific series. I give you - Word Origins from Left Field - that's right, the WOLF. Er... ignore the fact that the "from" doesn't fit.

It's a phrase most of us hate, and none of us understand:

The exception proves the rule.

No, it doesn't make sense... unless you understand the history of the word proves.

The usage of words can change and language shifts over time. For example, girl used to mean any pre-pubescent person, regardless of their sex. And nice used to mean silly, stupid, or ignorant.

The word proves was more commonly used as meaning; to test the truth or usefulness of something - think proving ground.

So the exception proves the rule means that the exception is testing the rule... not providing proof that it is, in fact, a rule.