Glossary Home Idioms

A blessing in disguise

“A blessing in disguise” refers to the idea that something negative can have a positive outcome.

“A blessing in disguise” is a well-loved English idiom, one that’s applicable to an infinite number of possible situations. This idiom is far easier to understand than some of the more obscure in the English language. It takes less context and history with the phrase to understand what it’s used for and how one might use it themselves. 

A blessing in disguise meaning and examples


Meaning of “A blessing in disguise” 

“A blessing in disguise” is a commonly used, English-language idiom that refers to the idea that something negative can have a positive outcome. The “blessing” is disguised by the misfortune. It is related to other phrases like “count your blessings” and “a mixed blessing,” both of which stress the importance of “blessings” versus misfortunes.  There are innumerable possible uses of this phrase and interesting ways in which it can be applied. The idiom is quite optimistic, always trying to see the glass as “half full” and looking for a “silver lining.” 


When to Use “A blessing in disguise” 

It’s possible to use “a blessing in disguise” in many different ways. It’s going to fit into a variety of situations and all the ways that one might interrupt various outcomes and actions. For example, one might use the phrase when trying to make a friend feel better after they miss out on an opportunity. Perhaps, you’re implying, the lost opportunity is actually a “blessing in disguise,” and something even better will happen next. Or, one might use the phrase after they’ve realized that their loss has become a gain. One might say, “I finally understand that our breakup was actually a blessing in disguise. I’ve never been happier.” 


Example Sentences with “A blessing in disguise”  

  • Well, it turned out that it was all a blessing in disguise. I really feel like I’m back on track. 
  • Now that she’s gone, it really feels like this whole thing was a blessing in disguise.
  • I want to believe that this could be a blessing in disguise, but I just don’t think it’s possible.
  • My mom suggested that not getting the job might actually be a blessing in disguise, but who knows.
  • How can I turn this around? Is it possible to make this into a blessing in disguise? 


Why Do Writers Use “A blessing in disguise?”

Writers use “a blessing in disguise” in the same way that the idiom can be used in everyday speech. It, like other aphorisms, is connected to a specific understanding of language acquired through a cultural upbringing. This means that there are always going to be some people who don’t understand the phrase. Writers are very aware of this fact. It might be the case that one comes upon an idiom, proverb, or other aphorisms that they’ve never heard before, and it requires context clues to work out. This is where fitting the idiom into the text is quite important. The phrase might make dialogue feel more natural and relatable, or it might complicate things unnecessarily. It might also have the opposite intended effect, making dialogue sound less natural than it would’ve otherwise. 


Origins of “A blessing in disguise” 

Like most idioms, “a blessing in disguise” has debated origins. It’s always possible, and usually likely that the first time the idiom appeared in print was not the first time it was ever used. In the case of “a blessing in disguise,” it first appeared in James Hervey’s hymn, “Since all the downward tracts of time” in 1746. It was published in “Reflections on a Flower-garden. In a letter to a lady.” This volume can be found in what is commonly considered his best work, Meditations and Contemplations. Here are a few lines: 

Good when He gives, supremely good,

Nor less when He denies;

Ev’n crosses from His sovereign hand

Are blessings in disguise.

 In the verse, Harvey contemplates how important and wise it is to accept whatever God has in store. He uses the phrase to allude to the negative-seeming obstacles one encounters in life, depicting them as god sending one a “blessing in disguise.” 

More than a century later, the phrase was used in an interesting, Civil War-era cartoon titled “Blessings in Disguise.” It depicted the Confederate states’ president Jefferson David, surrounded by defeated cities. This cartoon suggested that the loss of land to defend actually made the confederacy stronger. It was possibly a “blessing in disguise” for those who supported the confederacy. 


Related Idioms 

  • “The glass is half full.” 
  • “The glass is half empty.” 
  • “Find the silver lining.” 
  • “Count your blessings.”
  • Under the weather.” 
  • “Don’t get bent out of shape.” 

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