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On cloud nine

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  • On cloud nine is an idiom with uncertain origins. An idiom is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. We will examine the meaning of the expression on cloud nine, where it may have come from and some examples of its use in sentences.

    The phrase on cloud nine describes someone who is very happy, who is on top of the world, who is elated. Interestingly, various numbers have been ascribed to clouds where someone is happy, including cloud seven and cloud thirty-nine. Cloud seven is still sometimes seen, but it is most probably a confabulation of two terms: cloud nine and seventh heaven. The expression on cloud nine enjoyed a resurgence of popularity after its use by Roger Federer, describing his feelings after winning the Australian Open over Rafael Nadal in 2017, his eighteenth grand slam title.  Both Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic had been knocked out of the tournament early. “I do feel like I’m on cloud nine still,” Federer said.

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    Some ascribe the origin of the idiom on cloud nine to the International Cloud-Atlas, a system of classifying clouds published in 1895. According to this work, there are ten types of clouds, cloud nine being the cumulonimbus. Cumulonimbus clouds are towering, fluffy phenomena. This connection is dubious, as the term on cloud nine didn’t become well known until the 1950s. The source of the popularization of the term on cloud nine may be an American radio show called Johnny Dollar. Johnny was an insurance investigator with an “action-packed expense account.” Whenever he was knocked out in the course of an investigation, he was said to have gone to cloud nine.

    Examples

    When we spoke to Coombs a few days after seeing Lamar, of course, he was still on cloud nine. (Forbes Magazine)

    Add in a brace to become the leading scorer after one round of Champions League games and Stones will be on cloud nine for some time we suspect! (Sports Illustrated)

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