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I was surprised to hear the expression

to be on cloud nine

because in German there is a similar expression but the number is seven instead of nine?

What is the origin of the corresponding number?

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It seems that there's still no common explanation for seven versus nine. There is a very interesting article which lists several possible explanations:

  • 1950s: classification of US weather bureau: 'cloud nine' denotes the fluffy cumulonimbus type that are considered so attractive.
  • 'Cloud nine' is one of the stages of the progress in Buddhism.
  • Clouds in literature: often refererred a state of happiness. Moreover there was the 'seventh heaven'.
  • 1960s: Dictionary of American Slang, which was the first printed definition of the term 'cloud seven' - completely happy, perfectly satisfied; in a euphoric state."
  • 1980s: 'cloud nine' has become predominant due to popular music which were using the phrase 'cloud nine'.

Summing up, there is no perfect answer for this question. In my opinion after reading the mentioned article, the origin which relates to the literature and music seems to fit most. Especially it is possible to explain the fact that in German the phrase is still 'cloud seven'.

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