What Does The Winter of Our Discontent Mean?

Now is the Winter of Our Discontent Meaning

Definition: Our unhappy times are in the past.

Origin of The Winter of Our Discontent

This line comes from the English playwright William Shakespeare. He used it in his play Richard III, written in the year 1594.

  • Now is the winter of our discontent, made glorious summer by this sun of York

People frequently quote this line. In the play, the Richard is celebrating his family’s victory and ascendance to the throne. The war is over, and times are peaceful once again.

This means that the expression is positive. It emphasizes the temporary nature of the bad times, and that they are over.

Sometimes, however, people forget the celebratory nature of this line and use it to emphasize a current negative situation.

Examples of The Winter of Our Discontent

the winter of our discontent quotesIn the dialogue below, two friends are talking about a problem that they recently solved. They use the expression in the same way Shakespeare originally intended.

Ezekiel: I’m so glad that we helped Larry and Barry stop fighting.

Maggie: I know! It was so silly that they were arguing over something so ridiculous.

Ezekiel: I can’t believe how much stress they caused to everyone else in our friend group. It wasn’t cool of them to make everyone choose sides.

Maggie: Luckily, they made up, and now we don’t have to worry about that awful situation any more. We can enjoy peaceful times once again.

Ezekiel: True. Now is the winter of our discontent, made glorious summer by the end of this fight.

the winter of my discontentIn this example two friends are upset because of all the problems they are experiencing. They use the expression the way some people today use it, to express negative feelings about a current situation.

Tyrion: Everything is awful. I thought by this time in history we would have solved problems like world hunger and war.

Mila: Why? Those are big problems. They aren’t so easy to solve.

Tyrion: I would be satisfied if things were at least improving. I feel like things are getting worse.

Mila: Why?

Tyrion: Every night on the news, I see more evidence of the horribleness of people. People everywhere are dying from lack of food and clean water. There are so many wars going on. Now is the winter of our discontent.

More Examples

This excerpt is from an article about Shakespeare’s play. They use this quote to describe why the set makers designed the set the way they did.

  • A frame of bare branches (by set designers Jacqueline and Richard Penrod) is just enough to suggest the “winter of our discontent,” along with dramatic lighting by JR Lederle, fittingly gray costumes trimmed with ruffs and fur by Sully Ratke, and ominous music by Kevin O’Donnell and Aaron Stephenson. –Chicago Sun Times

This excerpt uses a variation of the expression to refer to a bad season for a sports team.

  • Asked for a comment on this winter discontent, Dodgers president and CEO Stan Kasten referred to the calendar and warned against passing premature judgment. –OC Register


The phrase the winter of our discontent refers to a temporary and passing condition of sadness.