On Cloud Nine —Its Meaning and Origin


The phrase “on cloud nine” is an idiom that means a person is feeling very happy or satisfied.

Example: Will was in desperate need of a job. He applied at every possible place that he could in his town, but no matter what he did, it seemed like no one wanted to hire him. After all the bad news, things were feeling rather hopeless. Finally, he got a call from someone wanting to employ him. When Will heard this, you could say he was floating on cloud nine, as the saying goes. (In other words, he was happy.)

Synonyms: as happy as a clam, as happy as a pig in mud, over the moon

Floating On Cloud Nine

The Origin Of ‘On Cloud Nine’

It’s thought that the phrase “on cloud nine” possibly comes from meteorologists, who sometimes classified different types of clouds by using numbers. The number given to a cloud was dependent on its altitude. So, for example, if one of them was given a 9, that meant the cloud was really high up… something along those lines.

Anyways, in comparison to other commonly used phrases, this one in particular doesn’t look to be that old. It’s earliest appearance (that I know of) is in the Denton Record Chronicle, May 1949. To give some context for the following quote, a woman named Betty Hutton was accepted for a movie role, so she’s feeling quite happy about that:

“Let’s look in on Betty Hutton, who says she is hovering ‘on Cloud No Nine’ these days.”

As you can see from the quote, it’s common for the verbs “hovering” or “floating” to precede this expression.

Example Sentences

Similar phrases to “on cloud nine” include “as happy as a clam,” “as happy as a pig in mud,” and “over the moon.” Here are some sentence examples:

  • When Brian got home from work, his wife told him that she was pregnant. After hearing the news, he was on cloud nine.

Similar Examples:

  • I bought my son an action figure. It’s a character from his favorite movie, so when he saw it, he was over the moon with excitement and couldn’t believe it.
  • I was craving a sweet snack and there’s one chocolate bar left in the box! I’m as happy as a pig in mud right now.
  • Payday is tomorrow, so after I get the money I’ll be as happy as a clam.

Note: I’d like to be clear on something. While this is not always the case, the origin of some popular sayings and phrases is not understood at all. So what you’ll see on the expression’s page are theories that talk about how it may have originated. While these may sound plausible, they are just speculation, really.

In addition, quotes that contain a phrase may be taken from old newspapers, poems, or books. These citations can give you a rough idea on how old a saying is.

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