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Every cloud has a silver lining

“Every cloud has a silver lining” is an English-language proverb that’s used to convey a feeling of optimism even if a situation seems dark and without hope.

The proverb originated from a phrase used by Milton in the 1600s and then was developed into a well-known proverb in the 1800s. “Every cloud has a silver lining” is commonly used by English speakers and can be used in many situations. It’s appropriate for colloquial and more formal conversations.

Every cloud has a silver lining


The phrase “every cloud has a silver lining” is a common one. It’s used in a wide variety of situations to convey a feeling of hope when it seems like there shouldn’t be any.

The phrase uses a metaphorical cloud to represent specific or unspecified trouble. Like dark clouds that blackout a sunny sky, these clouds disturb one’s peace. But, among all dark clouds, there is always a ray of hope or a silver lining. The saying is trying to convey a positive message. Even things seem terrible. It’s possible to take something positive out of the situation.

When to Use the Phrase

It’s possible to use “every cloud has a silver lining” in a wide variety of situations. For example, one might use it to motivate themselves in a private moment or to boost the spirits of someone they care about. Because of how vague the saying is, it can apply to many different troubles/hopes as well. One could use it to cheer up their colleagues when a business deal goes poorly, reminding them that at least there’s something to be learned from a failure. It might also be used when one friend is talking to another. For example, if one has recently gone through a break up the other might remind them that “every cloud has a silver lining” and help them see the positives in a seemingly terrible situation.

Example Sentences

  • Don’t worry, every cloud has a silver lining. Something is going to work out.
  • You shouldn’t stress so much. Every cloud has a silver lining.
  • It’s only when you take the time to relax that you realize every cloud has a silver lining.
  • Everyone is going to benefit from this situation. Every cloud has a silver lining.

Why Do Writers Use the Proverb?

Writers use “every cloud has a silver lining” when they want to share a sentiment that most readers are going to be familiar with. It evokes a feeling of hope in a hopeless situation. Depending on the situation, a writer might use this phrase when they are crafting dialogue or writing in their narrator’s voice. One character might use the proverb to remind another of how important it is to remain hopeful even if a situation seems terrible.

It should be noted that not all writers are interested in using proverbs or idioms. Many, like “every cloud has a silver lining,” are quite cliché. This means that they’ve been overused, so much so that they’ve lost most of their impact on readers. It’s more than likely that if you encounter this proverb, you’re going to know exactly what it means. This doesn’t appeal to many writers.

Origins of “Every cloud has a silver lining”

Like most proverbs and idioms, this one has a complicated origin. John Milton is credited with coining the phrase “silver lining” in his poem ‘Comus: A Mask Presented at Ludlow Castle,’ published in 1634. It reads:

I see ye visibly, and now believe

That he, the Supreme Good, to whom all things ill

Are but as slavish officers of vengeance,

Would send a glistering guardian, if need were

To keep my life and honour unassailed.

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.

Since he used the phrase, it started appearing in other poems and literary works, often referenced back to Milton’s original use. The later proverb, “every cloud has a silver lining,” may have been inspired by Milton’s phrase. But, it wasn’t until the 1800s, specifically 1840, that the phrase was used. It’s possible that the following iteration was the first time the proverb was published. It reads:

As Katty Macane has it, “there’s a silver lining to every cloud that sails about the heavens if we could only see it.”

This quote, which as Phrases describes, came from a review of the novel Marian; or, a Young Maid’s Fortunes, by Mrs S. Hall. It was published in 1840 in The Dublin Magazine, Volume 1. It was a few years later that the full idiom appeared. Another well-known iteration of the phrase comes from Sarah Payton Parton and her essay Nil desperandum. The quote reads:

NO, NEVER! Every cloud has a silver lining; and He who wove it knows when to turn it out. So, after every night, however long or dark, there shall yet come a golden morning.


Why should you use “every cloud has a silver lining?”

You should use it as a way to bolster someone’s mood. Plus, since the phrase is so common, it’s likely that whoever you say it to is going to understand it and appreciate the sentiment.

Is “every cloud has a silver lining” cliché?

It, like most proverbs, is cliché to some degree. Whether the phrase is completely cliché or not is up to interpretation and dependent on who is using it or saying it. But, generally, the phrase is used quite often and should probably be considered cliché.

Is “every cloud has a silver lining” positive?

It is a positive statement. It’s meant to remind those listening that even when times seem tough, or you’re going through a particularly dark period, there is something to be gained from it. There’s still hope, and you might even learn something along the way.

How do you use “every cloud has a silver lining” in a sentence?

You could say to a friend, family member, or colleague, “Don’t worry, every cloud has a silver lining.” Or, you might say, “something is going to work out. Every cloud has a silver lining.”

What is a “silver lining?”

A silver lining is a benefit. It is something that is juxtaposed against darker elements and is able to withstand them. If something has a silver lining, then you can expect to take something away from it that helps you in some way.

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