in the clouds


  1. a visible collection of particles of water or ice suspended in the air, usually at an elevation above the earth’s surface.
  2. any similar mass, especially of smoke or dust.
  3. a dim or obscure area in something otherwise clear or transparent.
  4. a patch or spot differing in color from the surrounding surface.
  5. anything that obscures or darkens something, or causes gloom, trouble, suspicion, disgrace, etc.
  6. a great number of insects, birds, etc., flying together: a cloud of locusts obscuring the sun.
  7. Digital Technology. any of several, often proprietary, parts of the Internet that allow online processing and storage of documents and data as well as electronic access to software and other resources (usually preceded by the): More and more software companies are encouraging users to store their work in the cloud.


  1. of or relating to cloud computing: cloud software; cloud servers.
  2. relating to or doing business on the Internet: Google and other cloud companies.

verb (used with object)

  1. to overspread or cover with, or as with, a cloud or clouds: The smoke from the fire clouded the sun from view.
  2. to overshadow; obscure; darken: The hardships of war cloud his childhood memories.
  3. to make gloomy.
  4. (of distress, anxiety, etc.) to reveal itself in (a part of one’s face): Worry clouded his brow.
  5. to make obscure or indistinct; confuse: Don’t cloud the issue with unnecessary details.
  6. to place under suspicion, disgrace, etc.
  7. to variegate with patches of another color.

verb (used without object)

  1. to grow cloudy; become clouded.
  2. (of a part of one’s face) to reveal one’s distress, anxiety, etc.: His brow clouded with anger.
  1. in the clouds,
    1. in a condition of absent-mindedness; lost in reverie.
    2. impractical: Their schemes are usually up in the clouds.
  2. on a cloud, Informal. exceedingly happy; in high spirits: On the night of the prom the seniors were on a cloud.
  3. under a cloud, in disgrace; under suspicion: After going bankrupt he left town under a cloud.


  1. a mass of water or ice particles visible in the sky, usually white or grey, from which rain or snow falls when the particles coagulateSee also cirrus, cumulonimbus, cumulus, stratus
  2. any collection of particles visible in the air, esp of smoke or dust
  3. a large number of insects or other small animals in flight
  4. something that darkens, threatens, or carries gloom
  5. jewellery a cloudlike blemish in a transparent stone
  6. (modifier) of or relating to cloud computinga cloud application
  7. in the clouds not in contact with reality
  8. under a cloud
    1. under reproach or suspicion
    2. in a state of gloom or bad temper
  9. on cloud nine informal elated; very happy


  1. (when intr, often foll by over or up) to make or become cloudy, overcast, or indistinct
  2. (tr) to make obscure; darken
  3. (tr) to confuse or impairemotion clouded his judgment
  4. to make or become gloomy or depressed
  5. (tr) to place under or render liable to suspicion or disgrace
  6. to render (liquids) milky or dull or (of liquids) to become milky or dull
  7. to become or render mottled or variegated

Old English clud “mass of rock, hill,” related to clod. Metaphoric extension to “raincloud, mass of evaporated water in the sky” is attested by c.1200 based on similarity of cumulus clouds and rock masses. The usual Old English word for “cloud” was weolcan. In Middle English, skie also originally meant “cloud.”

The four fundamental types of cloud classification (cirrus, cumulus, stratus, nimbus) were proposed by British amateur meteorologist Luke Howard (1772-1864) in 1802. Figuratively, as something that casts a shadow, from early 15c.; hence under a cloud (c.1500). In the clouds “removed from earthly things; obscure, fanciful, unreal” is from 1640s. Cloud-compeller translates (poetically) Greek nephelegereta, a Homeric epithet of Zeus.


early 15c., “overspread with clouds, cover, darken,” from cloud (n.). From 1510s as “to render dim or obscure;” 1590s as “to overspread with gloom.” Intransitive sense of “become cloudy” is from 1560s. Related: Clouded; clouding.

  1. A visible body of very fine water droplets or ice particles suspended in the atmosphere at altitudes ranging up to several miles above sea level. Clouds are formed when air that contains water vapor cools below the dew point.
  2. A distinguishable mass of particles or gas, such as the collection of gases and dust in a nebula.

see head in the clouds.

In addition to the idioms beginning with cloud

  • cloud over

also see:

  • head in the clouds
  • on cloud nine
  • silver lining, every cloud has
  • under a cloud

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