What is Cloud Nine?

Fun fact: There are 15 songs that are titled “Cloud Nine.” This popular phrase has been used by everyone from the Temptations to Chamillionaire.

Apparently everyone wants to sing about this mysterious location, which leads me to wonder…what exactly is cloud nine & where did that phrase come from?

Cloud Nine – The Meaning & Origin

Let’s start with the easy explanation..the meaning of the phrase. When someone says they are on cloud nine, they are referring to a state of happiness or elation. “He was on cloud nine for days after she agreed to marry him.” is the example one dictionary uses.

The story of where the phrase comes from isn’t quite as crystal clear. Here are a few explanations:

  • In the 1950s, the US Weather Bureau created a classifications of clouds. ‘Cloud Nine’ refers to the fluffy cumulonimbus type that are considered so attractive.
  • In Buddhism, Cloud Nine is one of the stages of the progress to enlightenment of a Bodhisattva (one destined to become a Buddha).
  • In Dante’s Paradise, the 9th level of heaven is closest to the Divine Presence.

But none of those explanations quite add up. All three examples have ten levels or stages. So what is so great about level nine. Wouldn’t the best level be the final level, #10. Thus making the saying, Cloud Ten.

Oddly enough, the original saying may just have been “Cloud Seven.” In the 1960 publication of The Dictionary of American Slang, the first printed definition of the term was  – “Cloud seven – completely happy, perfectly satisfied; in a euphoric state.”

In fact, Tony Bennett named his 1955 album “Cloud Seven.”

The thought is that seven was a significant number because of the phrase “seventh heaven.”

So why the switch to nine? No one really seems to know why, but somewhere along the way, seven just wasn’t good enough for clouds.



Sources:, Wikipedia, & Askville

Photo credit: Wikipedia