It's an ill wind that blows nobody good

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Michael_cycle, Jan 18, 2007.

  1. Michael_cycle Senior Member

    India - Hindi
    Its an ill wind that blows nobody good.


    Please explain this sentence.
     
  2. Porteño Senior Member

    Buenos Aires
    British English
    What it means is that winds normally bring good things therefore an 'ill' (bad) wind does nobody any good, which is why it is bad.
     
  3. Michael_cycle Senior Member

    India - Hindi
    Thank you.
    What is nobody good means?

    I think (nobody ----------- not anybody, good --- not bad)

    Therefore I can't understand (nobody any good).

    What is the meaning of `nobody any good' means?

    Could you explain it?
     
  4. Joelline

    Joelline Senior Member

    USA (W. Pennsylvania)
    American English
    "Its an ill wind that blows nobody good" means that even the worst event (an ill wind--like a tornado, for example) brings some good to somebody (for example, contractors that rebuild houses get jobs after a tornado!). The proverb can be applied in non-wind situations as well: If I am fired from my job (my "ill wind"), someone will be hired to replace me (and this will be good for them).
     
  5. Porteño Senior Member

    Buenos Aires
    British English
    If I am not mistaken, the correct proverb is:

    It's an ill wind that blows nobody any good.

    'Nobody any good' means quite simply 'does not do something good to somebody' - the nobody + any being a double negative makes the sentence positive.

    In other words, 'it's a bad wind which doesn't do anybody any good'.

    I hope that explains it.
     
  6. Michael_cycle Senior Member

    India - Hindi
    Thank you.
    I understood the sentence meaning.
    But I am not able to understand the meaning of `blows nobody any good'. I know you explained very well But still it is not going inside my mind.
     
  7. Porteño Senior Member

    Buenos Aires
    British English
    it's a bad wind that blows nothing good to anyone

    In other words:

    It's a bad wind which doesn't bring some good to someone.

    Is that any clearer?
     
  8. Michael_cycle Senior Member

    India - Hindi
    Yeah, I understood it.

    Here you told -- ill wind does not bring any good to someone.

    But earlier someone explained -- someone profits by someone losses. (here ill wind brings some good things)


    Its an ill wind that blows nobody good" means that even the worst event (an ill wind--like a tornado, for example) brings some good to somebody (for example, contractors that rebuild houses get jobs after a tornado!). The proverb can be applied in non-wind situations as well: If I am fired from my job (my "ill wind"), someone will be hired to replace me (and this will be good for them

    So, I am confusing. Which one is correct?
     
  9. Porteño Senior Member

    Buenos Aires
    British English
    You should read a little more carefully. I certainly did not say

    ill wind does not bring any good to someone.

    I said:

    It's a bad wind which doesn't bring some good to someone.
     
  10. Michael_cycle Senior Member

    India - Hindi
    Thank you.
    I understood.
     
  11. gepayo Banned

    Patagonia
    English, Florida, USA
    Joelline, please forgive me for putting words in your mouth. She did not mean that the proverb says that people profit from the misfortunes of others. She said what everyone else said: even the worst event or situation can be beneficial to some people. The "benefit" is unspecified. She chose a situation in which some people benefitted financially, but they didn't illegally or immorally take advantage of the people whose houses were destroyed.

    By the way, another version of the proverb is "It's an ill wind that blows no good." That avoids the awkward problem of "not nobody," "not anybody," "any nobody," etc.
     
  12. cyberpedant

    cyberpedant Senior Member

    North Adams, MA
    English USA, Northeast, NYC
    I've heard the phrase thus: "It's an ill wind that blows no good." (Not "nobody") In other words, if the wind (circumstance) brings NO good at all, it must be truly bad.
     
  13. gepayo Banned

    Patagonia
    English, Florida, USA
    Even cyberpedants should read the reply immediately preceding theirs.
     
  14. Joelline

    Joelline Senior Member

    USA (W. Pennsylvania)
    American English
    gepayo,

    Thank you for clarifying my remarks! You did it very well.

    One point: sometimes, one cannot read the reply immediately preceding their own because the second replyer is creating a post while the first replyer has just posted. Just look at the time stamp in the upper left corner, and you'll also see, sometimes, simultaneously postings.
     
  15. gepayo Banned

    Patagonia
    English, Florida, USA
    Dear Cyberpedant,

    Please forgive me. Joelline pointed out that we posted almost simultaneously. I never even noticed the time stamp until she pointed it out. It's amazing, though, how we said almost the same thing at the same time. Maybe we have a high "Psi" factor between us.
     
  16. Victoria32

    Victoria32 Senior Member

    New Zealand
    English (UK) New Zealand
    I understand the expression to be: "Its an ill wind that blows nobody any good."

    That means that although it may blow 'ill' for most people, it does good for some people, but a wind that blew no good for anybody, would be an ill (bad) wind indeed! (In other words, someone should/does always benefit, even if it's only a few people.)

    Vicky
     
  17. LV4-26

    LV4-26 Senior Member

    I think there are two confusing elements here.

    (A)
    The main one is the potential ambiguity resulting from the grammatical structure of the sentence. I, for one, found it hard to understand your answers until I figured out the right interpretation thanks to Victoria32's last post and when I became fully aware it is a proverb.

    It's an ill wind that blows nobody any good
    can be interpreted in two possible ways

    1. The wind I mentionned in (maybe) my previous sentence is an ill wind.
    Additional information : that wind does nobody any good.
    I believe that's how michael cycle (though I may be wrong in his/her case) and I understood it in the first place, even though there should probably be a comma before the (non restrictive) relative clause.

    2. It's an ill wind, (the one) that blows nobody any good. In other words, the wind that does nobody any good is an ill wind, or again, a wind that would do nobody any good would be an ill wind. (thks, Victoria).

    I've only just realized that #2 is the correct interpretation.
    This kind of grammatical structure is common in proverbs but is not that obvious to figure out for a non native.

    (B)
    the figurative (metaphorical?) use of "blows" for "does".
     
  18. kajuco Junior Member

    English, England
    It seems to me that what all the explanations lacked was the idea that it is UNLIKELY that a wind should be so ill (bad, fierce) that it blew no good at all (to anyone). It really would be an ill wind, and, my goodness, there can't be many of them around. So the paraphrase would be: if a wind blows no good at all, then you can really call it "ill", but most winds produce some good.
     
  19. iconoclast Senior Member

    mexico
    english - anglo-irish
    Is not the traditional expression "It's an ill wind that bodes no good"?
     
  20. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    The Oxford dictionary of proverbs has:
    it's an ill wind that blows nobody any good.
     
  21. iconoclast Senior Member

    mexico
    english - anglo-irish
    I stand corrected. I must have been mondegreening all these years.
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2009
  22. orpheu48 New Member

    français
    About the ill wind.
    I'm French, so excuse me if I am wrong.

    I can remember I was taught that the right proverb was:

    "There is no ill wind that brings nobody any good",
    meaning that even a negative event has some positive effect.

    A good and almost direct translation in French would be "<<French deleted.>>".

    One can very often hear wrong quotations of it, such as "There is no ill wind that brings nobody NO good", which means the contrary, unvoluntary of course, i.e. "any negative event is 100% negative".

    The french translation of the proverb is a french proverb that says "<<French deleted.>>"
    which litterally means "to something tragedy is good (kind)".

    Friendly greetings;
    Orph
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 29, 2012

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