Difference Wiki

Exception vs. Exemption: What's the Difference?

Edited by Harlon Moss || By Janet White || Updated on October 4, 2023
"Exception" refers to something that doesn't follow the general rule, while "Exemption" means a relief from an obligation or duty.

Key Differences

"Exception" and "Exemption" are two distinct terms, even though both suggest some form of deviation from the norm. "Exception" commonly denotes an instance or case not conforming to a general rule, pattern, or category. For instance, if one was discussing weather trends and mentioned that it usually rained every day except Tuesday, Tuesday would be the exception.
On the other hand, "Exemption" refers to the act of freeing or releasing from a liability or obligation that others must meet. In legal and financial contexts, this term is frequently employed. For example, certain individuals might receive an exemption from taxes due to specific criteria or circumstances.
In the realm of grammar, "Exception" can often be used as a noun denoting a deviation. Phrases like "with the exception of" highlight its grammatical utility. In contrast, "Exemption" might be associated more with formal decrees or authoritative decisions. One might hear it used in contexts like "He received an exemption from military service."
At their core, both terms imply non-conformity. However, while "Exception" points more towards an anomaly in a general rule or pattern, "Exemption" leans more towards a deliberate exclusion or relief from a standard requirement or obligation.

Comparison Chart


A deviation from the norm or rule
Relief from a certain duty or obligation

Use in a Sentence

"Blue is the exception in a sea of red."
"She received an exemption from the final exam."

Part of Speech


Common Context

Patterns, rules, generalizations
Duties, obligations, taxes, rules

Associated Words/Phrases

Except, exception to the rule
Exempt, tax exemption, military exemption

Exception and Exemption Definitions


A case where a rule does not apply.
There are a few exceptions to this law.


Release from an obligation or liability.
The council granted an exemption to the church.


A thing that proves the rule wrong.
The sudden storm in the dry season was an exception.


The action of freeing someone from a responsibility.
He applied for an exemption from the course.


The act of objecting to or not allowing something.
They took exception to the new policy.


A deduction allowed to reduce taxable income.
There are several tax exemptions available for homeowners.


A person or thing that is excluded from a general statement or rule.
She was the only exception in the group not invited.


Being excused from a rule or requirement.
She has an exemption from the state testing due to her condition.


The act of excepting or the condition of being excepted; exclusion.


A special privilege allowing one to forgo a usual duty.
The organization has an exemption from the federal law.


One that is excepted, especially a case that does not conform to a rule or generalization.


The act or an instance of exempting.


An objection or a criticism
Opinions that are open to exception.


The state of being exempt; immunity.


(Law) A formal protest against a ruling of the trial court on a question of law, such as the admissibility of a certain piece of evidence, to make clear for the record that the issue is being preserved for a potential appeal.


An exception of certain property from bankruptcy or taxation.


The act of excepting or excluding; exclusion; restriction by taking out something which would otherwise be included, as in a class, statement, rule.
The exception of a rule


The deduction of a certain amount in the computation of net income with regard to taxation, allowed for an individual, that individual's dependents, and certain characteristics, such as blindness or age.


That which is excluded from others; a person, thing, or case, specified as distinct, or not included.
That rule is usually true, but there are a few exceptions.


Excuse from performance of a legal duty, such as release from serving in the military or as a juror.


(legal) An objection, on legal grounds; also, as in conveyancing, a clause by which the grantor excepts or reserves something before the right is transferred.


An act of exempting.


An objection; cavil; dissent; disapprobation; offense; cause of offense; — usually followed by to or against.


The state of being exempt; immunity.


(computing) An interruption in normal processing, typically caused by an error condition, that can be raised ("thrown") by one part of the program and handled ("caught") by another part.


A deduction from the normal amount of taxes.


The act of excepting or excluding; exclusion; restriction by taking out something which would otherwise be included, as in a class, statement, rule.


Freedom from a defect or weakness.


That which is excepted or taken out from others; a person, thing, or case, specified as distinct, or not included; as, almost every general rule has its exceptions.
Such rare exceptions, shining in the dark,Prove, rather than impeach, the just remark.
That proud exception to all nature's laws.


The act of exempting; the state of being exempt; freedom from any charge, burden, evil, etc., to which others are subject; immunity; privilege; as, exemption of certain articles from seizure; exemption from military service; exemption from anxiety, suffering, etc.


An objection, oral or written, taken, in the course of an action, as to bail or security; or as to the decision of a judge, in the course of a trail, or in his charge to a jury; or as to lapse of time, or scandal, impertinence, or insufficiency in a pleading; also, as in conveyancing, a clause by which the grantor excepts something before granted.


Immunity from an obligation or duty


An objection; cavil; dissent; disapprobation; offense; cause of offense; - usually followed by to or against.
I will never answer what exceptions they can have against our account [relation].
He . . . took exception to the place of their burial.
She takes exceptions at your person.


A deduction allowed to a taxpayer because of his status (having certain dependents or being blind or being over 65 etc.);
Additional exemptions are allowed for each dependent


A deliberate act of omission;
With the exception of the children, everyone was told the news


An act exempting someone;
He was granted immunity from prosecution


An instance that does not conform to a rule or generalization;
All her children were brilliant; the only exception was her last child
An exception tests the rule


Grounds for adverse criticism;
His authority is beyond exception


A deviation from the usual or expected.
His rude behavior was an exception to his usually kind nature.


Can "Exemption" be used in everyday language?

Yes, "Exemption" can be used in casual contexts, but it's often used in legal or formal settings.

Is "without exception" a common phrase?

Yes, it means "in all cases" or "always."

Do both terms mean something is completely excluded?

Not necessarily. "Exception" implies deviation while "Exemption" implies relief from a duty, but not always total exclusion.

Is "Exception" used in programming?

Yes, in programming, an "Exception" refers to an unexpected event that disrupts normal flow.

Can an individual be an "Exemption"?

While less common, you might hear "She's an exemption" meaning she's excluded from a certain rule or duty.

Can organizations apply for "Exemptions"?

Yes, organizations often apply for exemptions, especially in tax contexts.

Is there a verb form of "Exception"?

No, but "Except" can be used as a verb.

Which is more permanent, "Exception" or "Exemption"?

Neither inherently implies permanence, but "Exemptions" often have set durations or conditions.

Is "Exception" always related to rules?

No, "Exception" can refer to any deviation from a norm or general pattern.

Can "Exception" be used in mathematics?

Yes, it can refer to deviations or anomalies in data or patterns.

Are "Exception" and "Exemption" synonyms?

No, they have different meanings and uses.

Is "Exemption" always positive?

Mostly, as it implies relief, but context can vary its perception.

Is a tax break the same as a tax "Exemption"?

They're similar. An "Exemption" reduces taxable income, while a break can be a reduction or credit.

And for "Exemption"?

Yes, "Exempt" is the verb form.

Can something be "the exception to the rule"?

Yes, it's a way of saying something doesn't follow the general rule.

Can an "Exception" be made for someone?

Yes, it means making a special allowance for them outside the norm.

Are exemptions legally binding?

Yes, in legal contexts, "Exemptions" often have official standing.

Do "Exception" and "Exemption" have similar origins?

Both have Latin roots but with different origins: "Exception" from "exceptio" and "Exemption" from "exemptio."

In what contexts is "Exception" commonly used?

Rules, patterns, behaviors, or general statements.

How is "Exemption" used in education?

Students might receive "Exemptions" from certain courses or tests based on various criteria.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.

Trending Comparisons

Popular Comparisons

New Comparisons