Christophe Grandsire scripsit: > Since in so many different languages it's "confirm" rather than "prove" > (IIRC so it is in Italian, Spanish and Portuguese - Jan, what about Polish? > and maybe Russian? -), I'd rather think that the use of "prove" in the > English expression is the exception rather than the rule here. And as I > said before, "confirm" makes much more sense than "prove" anyway (the > correct origin of the expression indeed maps quite well my description with > "confirm"). The legal concept goes back to at least Cicero[*], but the familiar terse formulation is first found only in the 17th century, and then it takes the form of "Exceptio figit [rather than probat] regulam", where "figit" can only mean "fixes, determines, establishes". See http://alt-usage-english.org/excerpts/fxtheexc.html [*] "Quod si exceptio facit ne liceat, ubi [non sit exceptum, ibi] necesse est licere." --Cic. pro Balbo, 32 -- John Cowan [log in to unmask] www.reutershealth.com www.ccil.org/~cowan "The exception proves the rule." Dimbulbs think: "Your counterexample proves my theory." Latin students think "'Probat' means 'tests': the exception puts the rule to the proof." But legal historians know it means "Evidence for an exception is evidence of the existence of a rule in cases not excepted from."