Cloud No. 9

Posted: September 25, 2006 in Thoughts

Many people in the recent past have asked me why do we use Cloud No. 9 to indicate happiness.

Well … I guess Herez the answer…

The popular etymology references the 1896 edition of the International Cloud Atlas which defined ten types of cloud. The ninth cloud was the cumulo-nimbus rising to a height of 10 km, which is the highest a cloud can be. There is, however, no good evidence for this.

The 1960 print of the Dictionary of American Slang (Wentworth & Flexner) includes “cloud seven”, the usage of which seems to predate “cloud nine” by a few years. Other etymolgies reference Buddhist or Christian lore, and even Dante’s Divine Comedy, but again there are no reasons to prefer these versions.

What the dictonary says:

Cloud Nine: (idiomatic) a state of happiness, elation or bliss; often used in the phrase on cloud nine.

Usage:

He was on cloud nine for days after she agreed to marry him.

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