By Marina

2019-01-09 17:38:54 8 Comments

I need a single-word to describe something good that (unexpectedly) resulted from something bad. This good thing could not have occurred without the bad event happening first, as a precursor.

Example sentence: "I got in a horrible car accident and broke my leg, but falling in love with my nurse at the hospital was the ____," (something like that).


@user36625 2019-01-11 13:26:58

noun: blessing in disguise

an apparent misfortune that eventually has good results

@Chappo 2019-01-12 10:17:23

Welcome to EL&U. If you quote someone else's words, it's essential that you make this clear (eg using quotation marks or blockquote formatting) and acknowledge the source. It's not only polite to give the original author credit, it also avoids the more serious charge of plagiarism. I've edited your post accordingly, but please include correct attribution in future :-) For further guidance, see How to Answer and take the EL&U Tour :-)

@Nagora 2019-01-10 18:23:16

Consolation is almost exactly that. OED:

"the comfort received by a person after a loss or disappointment

  • there was consolation in knowing that others were worse off"

So, to use the original example: ""I got in a horrible car accident and broke my leg, but falling in love with my nurse at the hospital was a consolation".

Although, compensation might work better in that example.

@PJTraill 2019-01-10 19:51:47

I would expect to hear ‘was a consolation’, but otherwise good.

@Nagora 2019-01-11 12:45:05

@PJTraill I agree; fixed.

@scohe001 2019-01-10 16:07:20

On the Bright Side would work here:

used to refer to the good part of something that is mostly bad

In your sentence:

"I got in a horrible car accident and broke my leg, but on the bright side, I ended up falling in love with my nurse at the hospital."

@gidds 2019-01-10 09:45:44

A term for the situation is an ill wind.

That's short for the proverb ‘It's an ill wind that blows nobody any good.’  Wiktionary paraphrases that as:

An action or occurrence must be very bad indeed if it brings no benefit to anyone.

According to The Phrase Finder, this is a many-centuries-old sailing metaphor, meaning that:

a wind that was unlucky for one person would bring good fortune to another.

The term is often used when mentioning the good outcome, as in these examples from The Free Dictionary:

The rain caused flooding, but it may help the farmers.  It's an ill wind, as they say.


The fire destroyed half the village.  For the builders business has never been better.  It’s an ill wind…

And Collins:

But it's an ill wind; I recovered and married one of my nurses from that hospital.

@WS2 2019-01-10 18:30:47

Very good. My guess is that you may be British - an oft-used proverb among an older generation.

@PJTraill 2019-01-10 19:45:24

I would say that ‘an ill wind’ refers not to the good that comes from the bad situation, but to the situation itself. Indeed, the ‘ill wind’ is one that is so bad that nobody benefits, and the proverb says how exceptional that is. The last two examples may appear to contradict me, but I feel that there one is meant to hear ‘that blows nobody good’ mentally.

@PJTraill 2019-01-10 19:54:52

To amplify, one would not say ‘falling in love with a nurse was the ill wind’. I fear that for me the medical context with ‘ill’ arouses associations with a different sense of wind.

@gidds 2019-01-10 20:10:37

@WS2: Yes, I'm English. Not young, but would be depressed to be called ‘old’…

@gidds 2019-01-10 20:10:47

@PJTraill: Note that I started with ‘A term for the situation is…’!

@WS2 2019-01-10 20:54:42

@gidds I do apologise. I wasn't for a moment suggesting you were old - simply that many of us have had that expression handed down to us. But as soon as I read your answer I immediately recognised it as so obviously British. Some American will now read this and insist it is widely used in their neighbourhood too!

@gidds 2019-01-10 21:51:02

@WS2: No apology needed! Age is, after all, merely a number. (An ever-increasing number… [sigh].) And the multi-way transfers between British and American Englishes can be fascinatingly unexpected; I find and interesting and strangely cheering!

@Peter A. Schneider 2019-01-10 01:16:57

The word irony has undergone a bit of a semantic shift and is often used for a perceived contradiction, among others a contradiction between one's expectations and an actual fact or event.

Merriam-Webster gives as one of its meanings

incongruity between the actual result of a sequence of events and the normal or expected result

and continues with examples in which the outcome is worse than expected; but it can be used for better outcomes as well, like in your case:

"Falling in love with the nurse was the irony of my accident." Or "ironically, getting fired was the best thing that had happened to me in a long time".

@GSerg 2019-01-10 08:05:09

I really don't think irony qualifies.

@Peter A. Schneider 2019-01-10 09:23:57

@GSerg (1) I'm not talking about mere coincidents; I'm talking about paradoxical outcomes, or situational irony. (2) Even if, M-W has this to say to arguments like yours: "The historical record shows that irony and ironic have been used imprecisely for almost 100 years at least, and often to refer to coincidence. [...] while some feel this is an incorrect use of the word, it is merely a new one."

@GSerg 2019-01-10 11:34:26

It's a bit unfortunate that the video discusses irony versus coincidents specifically, which in this case serves as a distraction. For me the reasons to mention the video were "a result opposite to, and in mockery of, the appropriate result", and the specific examples of irony given. Your two examples may qualify as irony only in certain context: it is only ironic to fall in love with a nurse if you ended up in the hospital while trying to avoid relationships, and it is only ironic to enjoy getting fired when you were trying to get fired because you wanted to feel miserable.

@Peter A. Schneider 2019-01-10 12:49:01

@GSerg As is specifically explained in the M-W article, not all uses require the context you mention. Even pure coincidences without any contradiction whatsoever have been called "ironic" since before the wars, whether we like it or not.

@TaliesinMerlin 2019-01-09 19:27:53

Serendipitous. Adjective.

I got in a horrible car accident and broke my leg, but falling in love with my nurse at the hospital was serendipitous

Wiktionary says:

combination of events which are not individually beneficial, but occurring together to produce a good or wonderful outcome.

The idea behind serendipity (its noun form) is that a beneficial outcome emerges from one or more chance events. Your example speaker didn't choose to get in an accident, but that accident led to falling in love. Another example: a romantic comedy like Pretty Woman may have plenty of misfortune but it has a serendipitous outcome: two people fall in love.

One phrase associated with serendipity that seems especially applicable to your example is "happy accident," one translation of felix culpa.

@Barmar 2019-01-09 22:30:38

If you want a movie reference, how about Serendipity

@Barmar 2019-01-09 22:32:12

Serendipity isn't always about one of the events being bad. It's just a coincidence that works out well.

@PJTraill 2019-01-10 19:48:45

I am surprised to gather that serendipity has come so far from its original meaning of, if I remember aright ‘the art of making happy discoveries by accident’!

@Fattie 2019-01-11 12:28:58

This is completely wrong (just glance in any dictionary, such as the OED built in to any Mac).

@TaliesinMerlin 2019-01-11 14:34:28

@Fattie Would you clarify? For instance, this source is also close to the Wiktionary entry: . Merriam-Webster lists a similar entry: ": the faculty or phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for also : an instance of this." Perhaps the OED doesn't have this definition? (Possible if it's still from the 1986 edition; also dictionaries disagree.) I agree with Barmar's note that the usage extends to all unanticipated events, including ones that aren't bad, but it's the best single-word answer I have.

@Fattie 2019-01-11 14:36:42

(By the way, I didn't mean to be rude - sorry! :) ) Simply, serendipity is finding something by luck. The question is about "when something Bad, has a Good silver lining". It's just unrelated.

@TaliesinMerlin 2019-01-11 14:38:41

I still think it's related, but thanks for the input.

@Jim 2019-01-09 17:41:38

silver lining

"I got in a horrible car accident and broke my leg, but falling in love with my nurse at the hospital was the silver lining"

From Wikipedia

A silver lining is a metaphor for optimism in the common English-language which means a negative occurrence may have a positive aspect to it.

Etymonline says:

a "bright side" which proverbially accompanies even the darkest trouble; by 1843, apparently from oft-quoted lines from Milton's "Comus," where the silver lining is the light of the moon shining from behind the cloud.

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 out her silver lining on the night And casts a gleam over this tufted grove.

To which Thomas Warton added the commentary: "When all succour ſeems to be lost, Heaven unexpectedly presents the ſilver lining oſ a ſable cloud to the virtuous."

@wrymug 2019-01-09 17:42:01

Beat me to it :) Nice answer

@Michael W. 2019-01-09 17:47:03

For those unfamiliar, "silver lining" is recognizable to English speakers as a part of the phrase "every cloud has a silver lining," meaning that dark things can still have bright spots. This saying is so common to native English speakers that just "silver lining" is instantly recognizable.

@PJTraill 2019-01-10 19:49:39

Not actually a single word, but still the best.

@mowwwalker 2019-01-10 21:14:53

@MichaelW. I'm a native English speaker familiar with "silver lining", but I've never actually heard the full expression :0

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