Now is the Winter of Our Discontent – Meaning, Origin and Usage

Are you looking for a way to tell someone that things can’t get any worse? If so, you could say that “now is “the winter of our discontent.” This post unpacks the meaning and origin of this proverbial expression.


The phrase “now is the winter of our discontent” means that we are exiting the bad times in life, and there is nothing but good times ahead. It means that you have endured the worst of a situation, and things are starting to improve for you.

Example Usage

“I know it’s been a tough three months, but this is the winter of our discontent, and things will improve from here on out.”

“This is the winter of our discontent. Sales are through the floor, but it looks like things are starting to turn around for the company this quarter.”

“Inflation is rampant right now. It looks like this is the winter of discontent for gasoline prices at the pump. Californians can expect prices to start dropping in coming months after the release of the strategic reserve.”

“Now is the winter of our discontent. However, after they figure out what’s going on, we expect things to improve and life to get back to normal.”

Idiom Origin

The origin of the expression, “now is the winter of our discontent,” comes from the Shakespeare play, “Richard III,” written in 1594.

Now is the winter of our discontent

Made glorious summer by this sun of York;

And all the clouds that lour’d upon our house

In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.”

Shakespeare used the seasons as a metaphor for the good and bad fortunes of the English “House of York” and their rivalry with the “Plantagenets” for the throne. The ‘sun of York’ was a comment on the ‘son of York’ Edward IV, not the Yorkshire weather.

In the play, Richard is saying they are at a depth of the winter. But summer is on the way, thanks to the actions of the son of York (Edward), and better times are on the way. Shakespeare has Richard personify his view of English policy during the “Wars of the Roses.”

Phrases Similar to Now is the Winter of our Discontent

  • Things can’t get any worse.
  • The worst is behind us.
  • We’re on the up and up.

Phrases Opposite to Now is the Winter of our Discontent

  • Everything is moving along as expected.
  • We’re doing well right now.

What is the Correct Saying?

  • Winter of our discontent.

Ways People May Say Now is the Winter of our Discontent Incorrectly

The phrase has nothing to do with seasons or the wintertime. It’s a way of telling people that you’ve reached the depths of despair, and things can only improve from here. The phrase usually acts as a motivating statement, so using it to imply that things will get worse in life is the incorrect use of the expression.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase Now is the Winter of our Discontent

You can use the saying “now is the winter of our discontent” when you’re trying to raise other people’s spirits around you. It’s a motivating statement that suits professional and social situations. For instance, you could use the saying when you’re talking to your friends about how your football team is at the peak of its bad performance, and things can only get better for the rest of the season. You could use it when talking to your boss about a slowdown in sales due to the economic climate.

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