Posted by Bob on January 18, 2003
In Reply to: Every cloud has a silver lining posted by ESC on January 18, 2003
: : : : : Hi, could you explain the meaning of "Silver lining", when and how to use this word?
: : : : It means that a negative situation has produced something
that is very positive. The very positive thing or situation is the "silver lining".
: : : : For instance, many people agree that one of the "silver linings" of World War 2 was the increae in technology that hastened the development and start of the computer era.
: : : I think this comes from thunder clouds, which are often very dark and threatening but which often may have a silver gleam of sunlight along one edge - the 'silver lining' to the cloud.
: : "Silver lining" comes from a proverb often heard, "Every cloud has a silver lining," which refers literally to the storm clouds described just above and is extended to the situations described above that.
: EVERY CLOUD HAS A SILVER LINING - "John Milton's masque (dramatic entertainment) 'Comus' gave rise to the current proverb with the lines, 'Was I deceiv'd, or did a sable cloud/ Turn forth her silver lining on the night?' Charles Dickens, in his novel 'Bleak House' , recalled the lines with 'I turn my silver lining outward like Milton's cloud,' and the American impresario Phineas T. Barnum first recorded the wording of the modern saying in 'Struggles and Triumphs' with 'Every cloud,' says the proverb, 'has a silver lining.'" From "Wise Words and Wives' Tales: The Origins, Meanings and Time-Honored Wisdom of Proverbs and Folk Sayings Olde and New" by Stuart Flexner and Doris Flexner (Avon Books, New York, 1993).
Optimists see it that way. But we all know people who take the half-empty position, and they would remind us that every silver lining is surrounded by a big black cloud.
See also: the meaning and origin of 'every cloud has a silver lining'.