What Does It’s Always Darkest Before the Dawn Mean?

Definition: Don’t give up during hard times because things are hardest right before they get better.

Origin of It’s Always Darkest Before the Dawn

The first person to use this proverb was Thomas Fuller, an English theologian, in the year 1650. It appeared in his work titled A Pisgah-Sight of Palestine and the Confines Thereof.

The idea behind this is related to the literal meaning of dawn. Dawn begins when the first light begins to show over the horizon from the sunrise. Therefore, there is the least light before dawn begins, because there is no sunlight at that point. That is also the longest point since last seeing light.

Examples of It’s Always Darkest Before the Dawn

the night is always darkest before the dawn

Here is an example that involves two college students discussing a series of unfortunate occurrences that one of them has experienced.

Robin: You know what? I don’t think I’m going to return to school next year.

Harry: Why not? What’s the matter?

Robin: I just don’t think I’m smart enough to be successful here.

Harry: You’re extremely smart! Why would you think otherwise?

Robin: I’m failing most of my classes, the boy I was dating just broke up with me, and I feel sick all of the time.

Harry: Remember, it’s always darkest before the dawn. Things always get better when you’re at your lowest point. Also, you haven’t been going to class, you always flirt with other boys, and you only eat junk food. If you just change those three things, you’ll solve all your problems!

it is always darkest before the dawnIn this dialogue, two coworkers are discussing how terrible work has been lately.

Mal: I am thinking about quitting.

Xiomara: How come?

Mal: Everything is awful! I’m working overtime for no extra pay. The boss is always yelling at us. I feel stressed all the time!

Xiomara: Don’t worry. It’s always darkest before the dawn.

Mal: I’m surprised you’d say that. You are usually more of a pessimist than I am. Do you know something that I don’t?

Xiomara: Actually, they promoted me. They are firing our boss today, and I am taking his place. I’m going to be making some changes that should make everyone happier!

More Examples

This excerpt is about a really bad movie with low profits that was released right before a very popular movie with huge profits.

  • In what might be Hollywood’s best illustration of the cliché, “it’s always darkest before the dawn,” “The Country Bears” – yes, based on the animatronic characters from Disney’s Country Bear Jamboree show – bowed in 2002. It earned just $17 million at the box office, which worked out to a couple bucks for every bad review.But the next year, Disney broke through with “Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, which made more than $300 million, earned Johnny Depp an Academy Award nomination and established a formula that Disney’s been trying to replicate ever since, without much success. –OC Register

This excerpt is about an athlete speaking about having hope for improvement.

  • “It’s always darkest before the dawn, that’s a saying, and I truly believe that,” he said. “It’s getting better. Another saying I use is the difference between a rut and a groove. For 65 games we were in a pretty good groove. And now we’re sort of in a rut, trying to get out of that rut. But a rut and a groove are the same thing, only with different meanings.” –USA Today


The phrase it’s darkest before the dawn means that things always seem the worst right before they improve.