A blessing in disguise

What’s the meaning of the phrase ‘A blessing in disguise’?

An unexpected blessing (i.e. an unexpected good thing, such as something which felt bad at first, but led to something good).

What’s the origin of the phrase ‘A blessing in disguise’?

The first known use of this idiom is still debated by scholars to this day, but it has been established that it originated in the mid 1700s.

The earliest instance of its occurrence in print was in two works by James Hervey published in 1746, one called “Since all the downward tracts of time” and one called “Reflections on a Flower-Garden”.

The term is used to express how an unfortunate turn of events may not be so unfortunate after all, and that some good may come of it, if it hasn’t already.

Other ways to express the same sentiment in English include “A stroke of luck,” or “A happy little accident,” or “Every cloud has a silver lining”.

A similar sentiment, but not the exact phrase, can also be found in John Milton’s “Paradise Lost” published in 1667, and even in some of Shakespeare’s plays, such “As You Like It” published in 1632.

What are some notable uses of the phrase ‘A blessing in disguise’?

In far more recent times, the phrase has been used in pop culture. For instance, there was the song “Blessing in Disguise” by Michael Martin Murphey that was released in 1989, and a song with the same title was also released in 2009 by the Irish boy band Westlife.

Pop culture has also seen the sentiment expressed in film, but without using the exact words. For instance, in the film “Forrest Gump” released in 1994, where the protagonist finds himself facing unfortunate events which lead to fantastic opportunities.

And again in the film “The Pursuit of Happiness” released in 2006, where the protagonist faces homelessness and hardship but also life-changing opportunities.

Trend of a blessing in disguise in printed material over time

Cari Mayhew - Author at Phrase Finder

Cari Mayhew

Lifelong learner, phrase fanatic, and lover of literature across multiple genres. Cari Mayhew has a passion for expression, and a keen curiosity for how phrases begin and how their use transforms over time. She is often found looking for the ideal idiom to convey her thoughts and musings.