A silver lining is a good outcome or side product from something that was largely bad or unfortunate. It may be pluralized as silver linings.
This noun comes from the phrase every cloud has a silver lining. John Milton created the imagery of a cloud having a silver lining back in the 1600s. He spoke of a cloud glistening in the moonlight, sent by God to protect him.
It wasn’t until some two hundred years later that the phrase gained its current wording. The phrase is mostly used to encourage someone who is going through a hard time and may not have yet seen the silver lining.
The U.S. homeownership rate continued to decline in 2015, hitting its lowest level since 1989. But economists saw a silver lining in that number. [The Wall Street Journal]
Still, while it may not be able to dispense advice on sorcery, a permanent emergency services system may eventually be one of the silver linings of the Ebola outbreak. [The Telegraph]
“The entire episode has taught us that every dark cloud has a silver lining,” Uttarakhand DGP B S Sidhu told TOI. “During the hunt for Bhura, three notorious gangs, which had carried out a string of criminal activities in several districts of western Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Delhi and NCR, have been almost dismantled.” [Times of India]
There are negative images, peppered throughout stories about dropouts, teenage pregnancy, illegal immigration, crime, depression, etc. But there is also plenty of the positive, and most of the clouds have silver linings. [CNN]