My question is, why nine? Why not cloud two or forty-four or six hundred thirty-seven? It seems we’ll never know with certainty why “on cloud nine” was selected to refer to a very, very happy person, but I have a theory that could make the numerical selection less arbitrary. First, let’s dispel some myths.
Some have erroneously stated that cloud nine traces back to the US Weather Bureau’s classification from the 1950’s, the level of the fluffy cumulonimbus. But since there were ten levels by the bureau’s definition, why would someone who is supremely happy be a level below the highest? I’m afraid I wouldn’t have an adequate superlative to describe happiness on level ten, if that were the case.
Another error is to claim cloud nine originated from one of the stages along the way to enlightenment for a Bodhisattva. Once again, though, this is a ten level process. If we were to accept this theory as true, I would assert that “the whole nine yards” originated from American football! 1st and 9 anybody?