On Cloud Nine

It’s a great place to be!

Many of you already know I accepted an offer last week for a three-book romantic suspense series from Avon Impulse, a division of Harper Collins. To say I’m on cloud nine is the understatement of the year, but what does that mean exactly?

A person is said to be on cloud nine when he or she is in a state of idyllic happiness.

Not to be confused with the phrase – walking around with your head in the clouds, which implies dreaminess, intoxication or inspiration. Actually, that may apply to me a little right now too, but we’ll save that for another post!

Have you ever wondered where the expression comes from?

English: Cumulonimbus cloud with Pileus in the...
Cumulonimbus cloud (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On cloud nine has been linked to cumulonimbus clouds which, in the late 1800s, were thought to rise to a height of 6.2 miles, considered to be the highest that clouds could attain.

Before adding machines became commonplace, the number nine had significance to people doing multiplication and long division by hand, many of whom believed nine to be the most powerful single-digit number. To many, nine became the perfect number.

Beginning in the Victorian era, a person wearing the finest garments available was said to be dressed to the nines.

With the assertion that clouds exist in successively higher layers, and that nine was held in higher esteem than other numbers, i.e. the highest, the most powerful, the finest, it was natural to label the ultimate achievable height as cloud nine.

English: Cumulonimbus cloud over the Gulf of M...
Cumulonimbus cloud (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Throughout the ages, references have also been found to clouds seven, eight, and even thirty-nine. (Maybe that’s where the expression over the moon comes from!) By the 1980s, however, cloud nine became the predominant expression to describe someone’s ultimate joy, probably due to the influence of popular musicians such as The Temptations (1967) and George Harrison (1987) who used the expression as titles to songs and albums.

I’d love to know what puts you on cloud nine. Please leave me a comment if you’re so inclined. Hint – your clichés won’t be edited out!

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