Proof In Pudding Etymology

The proof is not in the pudding. The correct version of the cliché is:

The proof of the pudding is in the eating.

The 'proof' here is old usage. It means 'test'.

Sort of like the abbreviated: "Stop running around with your chicken cut off."
So say you. Clichés evolve over time the same way words and idioms do. Possibly the first documented use is as you suggest, and it even makes sense. In any case, people off the street are more likely to spout the short form. Here in Austin, TX (where I live) there are many clichés used by reference to the first few words. This tends to confuse outsiders and especially foreign nationals where idioms and clichés are completely different.


'When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less.'

ThankYou HumptyDumpty (from ThroughTheLookingGlass)


The proof is in the pudding just plain doesn't make sense. There is no excuse for sloppy talking. So what? Big deal. People use it. It is useful. It is easier to say than the whole phrase. It makes more sense to people than the original phrase, regardless of whether it doesn't make grammatical sense.

The point is not whether or not the phrase makes grammatical sense; It does. The point is that the shortened "version" has lost its original logical sense.

I often store draft copies of my documents in trifles for security purposes.


Along the same lines is the phrase "I could care less..." instead of "I couldn't care less".

No, "I could care less..." is sarcastic, like "As if I could care less..."


You are absolutely right. I don't like it when people say "the proof is in the pudding".

Related to this, people always use "That's the exception that proves the rule" the wrong way. How can an exception prove a rule? It should disprove the rule.

This is the same thing; the word "proof" means test. "That's the exception that tests the rule." makes perfect sense.

Another way of interpreting it is that when people use specific examples to show that a rule is not always true, the fact that the exceptions are special cases acknowledges that the generalization exists, and directs attention to the violation of the rule.

Perhaps it should then be phrased as The exception implies the rule.

However, it should be pointed out that linguistically, IdiomsAreAtomic. -- JayOsako

I've always used this phrase not relating to the definition of 'rule', but that 'Every rule has an exception'. Then I point out the el weirdo exception, and use it as the exception that proves the otherwise general rule - which at least lets me stall for a time until I generalize the rule to encompass the exception.

Is the 'Every rule has an exception' rule an exception from itself?

No. Proof:

  1. Say a rule is COMPLETE iff it has no exceptions1. Say a rule is INCOMPLETE iff it is not COMPLETE
  2. Define a rule E as "Every rule has an exception."
  3. E states that every rule is INCOMPLETE
  4. Suppose E is COMPLETE
  5. Then every rule is INCOMPLETE (by 4)
  6. E is a rule.
  7. So E is INCOMPLETE (by 6), Contradicting (5)!
  8. So E must be INCOMPLETE
  9. Hence E is not an exception to itself.
In that case, it follows E has an exception. What is it?

Of course, the above "proof" is fallacious.

A more important question: Is the rule 'No rule is an exception to itself' an exception to itself? Important?

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