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13 Jan. “Every cloud has a silver lining.” The origins and meanings of this expression.

The English idiom “every cloud has a silver lining,” creates a beautiful image in our minds and has an equally positive message behind it.


The expression is generally given as advice to someone who is going through a difficult time in order to remind them to be optimistic. It suggests that although things may be tough at this exact moment in time, there are better days to come!


The phrase was first used in 1634 by John Milton in his poem Comus: A Mask Presented at Ludlow Castle, where he wrote;

“To keep my life and honour unassailed. Was I deceived, or did a sable cloud
Turn forth her silver lining on the night?”

From this time on both “clouds” and “silver linings” featured more and more in literature until in 1840 it appeared for the first time in the proverbial form which reflects its current usage. This can be found in a review written by a Mrs S. Hall in The Dublin Magazine, Volume 1, where she writes “As Katty Macane has it, “there’s a silver lining to every cloud that sails about the heavens if we could only see it.” The proverbial use of this expression is thus dated back to the Victorian era and has been used regularly ever since.


An example of this expression can be found in an article in the Guardian newspaper from June 2010 which focuses on life whilst on the waiting list for a heart transplant. It writes, “The virus probably won’t go away until I stop taking the immunosuppressant drugs. I can’t stop taking these until I start dialysis. So every cloud has a silver lining.”

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