Thursday, January 5, 2012

What does every cloud has a silver lining really mean?

Every cloud has a silver lining

This well-known phrase means that even a bad situation can have a good side.

It is usually said to someone to cheer them up in a bad situation and to offer encouragement to think positively.

Oh, you have broken all your plates – at least you won’t have to wash up later!

So why do we say it and where does it come from? After all clouds do not really have silver linings and are more likely to drop rain than shower good luck on those below.
The first time in literature that this phrase appears is in a 1634 poem by John Milton – Comus - A Mask Presented at Ludlow Castle, and is more descriptive than proverbial.

Was I deceived, or did a sable cloud
Turn forth her silver lining on the night?
I did not err; there does a sable cloud
Turn forth her silver lining on the night,
And casts a gleam over this tufted grove.

Literary references of the time talked about clouds and silver linings and even sometimes referred to them as Milton’s clouds.

However, in the Victorian Age, this poetic and descriptive device was turned into a proverb that became popular. The Victorian expression was "There's a silver lining to every cloud” or even the more lengthy "There's a silver lining to every cloud that sails about the heavens if we could only see it."

Over time this has changed to the more familiar “every cloud has a silver lining” 

It is a lovely idea that most bad situations often have something good that can be salvaged from them and making the best of things is generally a good trait.

But be warned – too much looking on the bright side in your friend’s hour of need can become extremely irritating. If your friend’s silver lining turns out to be telling you to butt out, your unrelenting optimism may have backfired.

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