Published: 27th July 2020
English Blues: What do words like 'on cloud nine', 'music to my ears' mean?
When we say that something is music to our ears, we mean that it is pleasant to hear. Everyone is happy to hear kind and encouraging words said by others
Mary: Hi John. How’re you doing?
John: Hi Mary. I’m doing well. And you?
Mary: Good. Long time no see. Tried to contact you but couldn’t reach you. Any problem?
John: Yes, I was down with a cold. Thought it was a symptom for the Coronavirus and got myself tested. Thank God, I tested negative.
Mary: Great! Why do you say “down with a cold”? Is it correct to use the article “a” before cold?
John: A good question. It is not very common to use an article before the name of illness in India but native speakers of English use indefinite articles with names of certain illnesses. Lemme give some examples: I have a headache. She has a fever. Is it a cold or an allergy? You can get a cold anytime.
Mary: Is it wrong to say, “My dad has recovered from the flu.”? Can we use the definite article with ‘flu’?
John: The sentence “My dad has recovered from the flu.” is correct because the definite article is used with ‘flu’. Lemme give you some more examples: Your doctor may not know if it’s a cold or the flu. I couldn’t sleep well as I was suffering from the flu.
Mary: Good explanation. You explain my queries like a professional teacher.
John: Really? It is music to my ears.
Mary: What do you mean?
John: When we say that something is music to our ears, we mean that it is pleasant to hear. Everyone is happy to hear kind and encouraging words said by others. For example, your words that I explain your queries like a professional teacher make me feel that I am on top of the world. Your compliments are always music to my ears.
Mary: Oh, nice to hear that from you, John. I have listened to the song Music to my ears a number of times but now I understand the meaning of the phrase. By the way, what is the real meaning of the expression “on top of the world”?
John: If we say that we feel on top of the world, we are stating that we are extremely happy and elated with joy. There’s another expression that means the same. It is “be on cloud nine”.
Mary: John, you make me feel on top of the world. Let me play the song Top of the world by Carpenters for you. The song is one of my all-time favourites. You will be on cloud nine after listening to the song.
John: That’s a wonderful song. I used to listen to pop music during my college days. Now I have lost touch with the music world. I wish I got back my musical passion.
Mary: You can. I’ll help you get back your musical passion. Music is life for me. Have you come across the quote: “Without music, life would be a mistake.”?
John: The quote about music that I like most is this: “One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.” This is from my favourite musician Bob Marley.
Mary: “When words fail, music speaks.” Let me play a Bob Marley song for you. Let it help you regain your musical passion.
John: You have hit the right note. Lemme enjoy the song and regain my passion.