English (not German) speaker here.

I have seen this interesting question: Warum schweben Deutsche nur auf Wolke sieben, wenn Amerikaner auf Wolke neun sind?.

I understand the meaning of the idiom auf Wolke sieben schweben, as it means the same thing as the English idiom "to be on Cloud Nine".

My question is two-fold:

1a How old is the German idiom auf Wolke sieben schweben?
1b Can you give me some examples of early, if not the oldest, uses?

  • 1
    A Google Ngram shows the first occurrence of "Wolke 7" in 1975 and of "Wolke sieben" in 1984. – IQV May 24 '18 at 6:06
  • Thanks @IQV I am looking for the (early/earliest) occurences of the idiom auf Wolke sieben schweben (to float on Cloud Seven)... – green_ideas May 24 '18 at 6:14
  • Why do German cats only have seven lives while cats in other countries have nine? <g> – Rudy Velthuis May 24 '18 at 17:32
  • 1
    @Rudy I did not know that was the case regarding German cats. – green_ideas May 24 '18 at 18:35

The etymology of "Wolke sieben" is closely related to the "siebenter Himmel" an ancient concept which is said to go as far back as to Aristotle who described seven vessels holding the seven heavens, and even back to Mesopotamian religion:

Sumerian incantations of the late second millennium BCE make references to seven heavens and seven earths. One such incantation is: "an-imin-bi ki-imin-bi" (the heavens are seven, the earths are seven.)

However the proverb "auf Wolke sieben schweben" is much younger than that. There are only references in publications beginning from the late 20th. Century. The earliest I could find is from a 1990 Hohlspiegel quote, but this is a satirical column of the German magazine "Der Spiegel" dedicated to style fails.

Die Hamburger Morgenpost zur ZDF-Talkshow "Live": "Zwischen Lafontaine und Röller saß Monika Hohlmeier als Weltkind der Mitten. Ihr Vater Franz Josef Strauß, falls er auf Wolke sieben fernsehen kann, wird seine Freude an ihr gehabt haben."

Another quote from "Die Zeit" dates later, in 1991:

Anderthalb Monate schwebte ich über dem Boden, jeden Abend, vor Tausenden von Menschen. Und dann bin ich aus Wolke sieben in die Müllkippe gefallen.

This may give a hint on the approximate date when it came up first. It may be a quote from a famous author but sadly I could not find a reference.

  • "A concept which is also found in the Talmud?" The equally related St Paul, Aristoteles, all much older than Talmud. – That just has to be older. gBooks hit for Duden 1992. – LаngLаngС May 24 '18 at 12:04
  • @LangLangC: thank you - I thought it was only remotely related and did not take enough care. And yes, the "siebente Himmel" is much older but to my own surprise the "Wolke sieben" is rather young. – Takkat May 24 '18 at 12:20
  • Thanks. The rather late date of the late 20th century surprises me also, given how popular the expression appears to be. If it is actually the case that the German idiom is so recent, then that leads to another question,but I will keep that in reserve for now; until possibly earlier evidence of the idiom is provided. – green_ideas May 24 '18 at 18:31

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