Famous Sayings: #90 — ‘Head in the Clouds’

December 1, 2017

I seem to have my head in the clouds.

head in the clouds, famous sayings
You might say a giraffe has its head in the clouds, but it just happens to have a very long neck. Photo by Juhasz Imre from Pexels.

This should be a quick one.

A few weeks ago, I looked at the idiom “down to earth,” which described a type of person who was grounded in reality. This week, I will look at just one antonymous phrase. And as it turns out, the phrase kind of describes me.

When Did This Phrase Originate?

When I visited numerous websites, including Dictionary.com and that of Oxford Royale Academy, there was a general agreement about the time placement: The phrase “head in the clouds” was first recorded in the mid-17th century, but its origin is unclear.

What Does It Mean When Someone Has Their ‘Head in the Clouds’?

To be honest, I’ve always had a general understanding of how the phrase was being used whenever I heard it, but I never really thought about the meaning. So, it didn’t hurt to look it up.

According to Woodward English, there are two types of situations where the phrase could be used:

  • The first use of the phrase refers to a person who has an unrealistic perception of things. That person is not grounded in reality (e.g., they have unrealistic expectations) or they might be a daydreamer.
  • The second use of the phrase refers to a momentary lapse of awareness. The person who has their “head in the clouds” is not paying attention.

How Does This Phrase Relate to Me?

Sometimes, I’m guilty on both counts.

I’ve always been somewhat of a daydreamer, especially when I was in elementary school. I got easily bored (with the schoolwork, with lectures, even when we had to read parts of textbooks out aloud), that sometimes, my mind would wander. Now that I think about it, I wish I had paid more attention in class — or used my daydreams to tell more stories.

This was in part cured by being challenged in courses and having teachers I liked and who I knew appreciated my work. When I was engaged, I was taking better notes and excited to go to certain classes.

Other times, my mind will wander if I’m bored by a speech, or someone is talking to me, but for 10 minutes straight. In that case, conversations should be a two-way street.

Works Cited

“20 English Idioms with their Meanings and Origins.”Oxford Royale Academy. Oxford Programs Limited, UK; 23 Jan 2014. Web. Retrieved 1 Dec 2017. <https://www.oxford-royale.co.uk/articles/bizarre-english-idioms-meaning-origins.html>.

“head in the clouds, have one’s.” The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Houghton Mifflin Company. 2 Dec. 2017. <Dictionary.com http://www.dictionary.com/browse/head-in-the-clouds–have-one-s>.

Woodward. “Have your head in the clouds – Idiom Meaning.” Woodward English. 24 Oct 2013. Web. <https://www.woodwardenglish.com/have-your-head-in-the-clouds-idiom-meaning/>.


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