Posted by ESC on January 29, 2003
In Reply to: Cloud nine posted by R. Berg on January 29, 2003
: : My 5th grade son is studying idioms. He needs to find the origin or "on cloud nine". If anyone could please help us. I have searched and found hundreds of idioms but not the one we need. Thanks for your help.
: Even an expert on catchphrases, Eric Partridge, offers mere speculations on the origin of this one. He says: "'[to be on] cloud Nine' is a US catchphrase dating since c. 1965 . . . . Perhaps from the slangy 'be over the moon', to be ecstatically happy" ("A Dictionary of Catch Phrases American and British," 1985). Paul Beale, the editor of the 2nd edition, adds "or an advance on the earlier 'cloud lucky seven'?"
CLOUD NINE - "The expression 'up on cloud nine' to describe a feeling of euphoric exaltation is based on actual terminology used by the U.S. Weather Bureau. Clouds are divided into classes and each class is divided into nine types. 'Cloud nine' is the cumulonimbus cloud that you often see building up in the sky in a hot summer afternoon. It may reach 30,000 to 40,000 feet, so if one is up on 'cloud nine,' one is high indeed. The popularity of 'cloud nine' as a catch phrase, though, may be credited to the 'Johnny Dollar' radio show of the 1950s. There was one recurring episode, like Fibber McGee's famous opening of the closet door. Every time the hero was knocked unconscious - which was often - he was transported to 'cloud nine.' There Johnny could start talking again." From "Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins" by William and Mary Morris (HarperCollins Publishers, New York, 1997).
See also: the meaning and origin of 'On Cloud Nine'.