Are You ‘Bursting with Joy,’ ‘Over The Moon,’ or ‘On Cloud Nine’? In this episode of Thinking in English, let’s learn some other fascinating idioms and phrases to describe happiness!!

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What makes you happy? Eating your favourite food? Spending time with family? Taking a long bath? Or a walk in the park? Instead of simply using the word ‘happy’ to describe your feelings, why not try something a little more creative? 

Learning English idioms is one of the best ways to boost your language level and sound more like a native speaker. Idioms are commonly used expressions with meanings that do not relate to the literal meaning of their words. What does this mean? Let’s take the example of ‘to have egg on your face.’ The literal meaning of these words is that there is egg on someone’s face, but the idiom actually means that someone is embarrassed! Idioms are fun to learn and use, make your English more interesting, and offer new ways to express your feelings. 

Sometimes it is difficult to talk about feelings. I struggle in my own native language! It can be even more frustrating trying to do so in a foreign language. However, if you study a few idioms, phrases, or phrasal verbs, you will be far more prepared to describe different feelings and emotions. This episode will introduce some new vocabulary to describe happiness. Try to use the following idioms and phrases the next time you are happy with something! And if you like this kind of episode, send me a message on Instagram and maybe I’ll make similar episodes with other emotions! 

So, without further adieu, here are a few of my favourite ways to describe happiness! 

On cloud nine

To be on cloud nine is used to explain that you are incredibly happy. As you know, this idiom suggests you are so happy that you are sitting on a cloud. Clouds are fluffy, high in the sky, and connected with legends about heaven and angels. Apparently the origin of on cloud nine comes from a book categorising clouds produced a hundred years ago! 

“I remember the day I found out I got into university. I was on cloud nine!”

Over the moon

Being over the moon about something means you are delighted by it! You are very happy and pleased. If you imagine your happiness as a scale, and the higher you go the happier you are, then if you are over the moon you must be incredibly happy! This phrase comes from an old English nursery rhyme which involves a cow jumping over the moon. 

“My brother is over the moon with his new car!”

On Top of the World 

This next idiom is similar to the previous two! To be on top of the world means that you’re feeling great, and happy to the point of ecstasy. Occasionally the word ‘sitting’ is added, to form the phrase sitting on top of the world. However this changes the meaning slightly to suggest you have power and, obviously, are happy about it.

“I visited Paris last week; got a promotion at my company yesterday; and heard some great news today – I’m on top of the world”


To be buzzing means to be very excited and happy. It is an informal term and often used as slang by young people! Either, you’re really excited about something that is going to happen or really happy about something. You could be buzzing for a party, or buzzing for an event coming up.  

“The singer confirmed he would be performing at the festival and said, “I’m buzzing about it””

In Seventh Heaven

To be in seventh heaven suggests you are incredibly happy or to be completely satisfied with something. Some religions (I think including Muslim and Jewish beliefs) believe that there seven different levels of heaven surrounding the Earth. The highest level of heaven, the place of ultimate joy, is where God exists. Therefore, in seventh heaven has become an idiom used to refer to bliss for hundreds of years!

“Give me a good meal and a nice beer, and I’ll be in seventh heaven”  

Grinning from Ear to Ear

Grinning from ear to ear is a really easy idiom to imagine. A grin is a smile. So imagine a grin extending across your face from one ear to the other ear. If your smile is that big, then you must be really happy. Grinning from ear to ear can describe the appearance of happiness (such as in a photo) or the true state of happiness.

“Ever player was grinning from ear to ear after winning the tournament” 

Bursting with Joy

When you fill a balloon with too much water or air, it bursts. So if you are bursting with joy, then you must be so full of joy and happiness that you are about to burst. There is so much excitement, bliss, and joy in your heart that it will burst. Some similar alternatives include bursting with excitement and bursting with pride. In fact, you can use this grammar as a starting point for any phrase that describes an emotional state!

“I was bursting with joy after visiting France!”

Have a Whale of a Time

To have a whale of a time means to have a very enjoyable experience. Especially a fun, exciting, or amusing experience. ‘Whale’ is used to mean big! So if your happiness is the size of a whale, of course it must be a great time!

“I had a whale of a time at your birthday party!” 

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By Tom Wilkinson

Host and founder of Thinking in English, Tom is committed to providing quality and interesting content to all English learners. Previously a research student at a top Japanese university and with a background in English teaching, political research, and Asian languages, Tom is now working fulltime on bettering Thinking in English!

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