Every cloud has a silver lining is a common saying people use when they want to direct someone’s attention to the positive aspects of a situation.
When a person is feeling down in the dumps, someone might use this phrase to try and cheer them up. Immediately after this phrase is used, it’s usually followed up by saying something positive.
Example: Tim was sad. He couldn’t go to the park to play with his friends because it was raining. So his parents told him: “You can’t go to the park today, but every cloud has a silver lining because now you get to spend more time with your family.”
Synonyms: look on the bright side, silver lining (shorter version)
The Origin Of ‘Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining’
The saying every cloud has a silver lining must have formed from people observing clouds in the sky. When clouds float in front of the sun, they will sometimes have a “silver lining” around them. As you can see in the picture above, the center of the cloud will look darker, but its edges are brighter.
So, how long has this saying been used for? Well, the shorter version of the phrase (silver lining) has been used for over 380 years, at least. For example, its earliest known appearance is found in a book titled Comus: A Mask Presented at Ludlow Castle by John Milton, 1634:
“Was I deceived, or did a sable cloud
Turn forth her silver lining on the night?”
But what about the full saying with its modern wording? Well, the earliest I could find it in print is from a book by P.T. Barnum, 1869, where he wrote:
“‘Every cloud,’ says the proverb, ‘has a silver lining,’ and so I did not despair.’ “
Tip: If you liked reading about this expression, we have more sayings starting with “E” that you can browse. Check out the full list to learn the meaning of hundreds of phrases.
- Even though you lost the race, every cloud has a silver lining. For example, the race motivate you to exercise and get back into shape.
- We accidentally burned our pizza in the oven. But, on the bright side, we can eat something healthier instead.
Note: Finding the meaning of an idiom is easy enough. However, when it comes to the origin of many phrases, it’s not clear where they come from. When the origin is unclear, what may be listed on the saying’s page is a theory on how it came into existence. If no theory is listed, then usually there will be a quote of the saying’s earliest known use. These quotes are there to give you an idea on how old the saying is.
For example, if a book from the year 1700 uses a certain expression and you see it quoted on here, it does not mean that the book is the source of its origin. It simply means that the term is at least as old as the book its in.