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10 idioms or phrases to express happiness

“I’m happy”. It’s a wonderful feeling, isn’t it? There are plenty of other ways to express happiness in English. I’ll list the more common ones below, with a definition or explanation and some examples.


1. Over the moon

This idiom means to be extremely happy and has its origin in the nursery rhyme Hey, Diddle Diddle, in which the cow jumps over the moon. Use this after the verb to be in past simple, present simple and future simple:

“I’m over the moon about my exam results”.

“They were over the moon to hear they were pregnant”.

“He’ll be over the moon when he hears her news”.




2. On top of the world

This idiom also means to be extremely happy. There’s no clear origin for the idiom but it’s been in use since the beginning of the 20th century. Use this after the verb to be or feel in past simple, present simple and future simple:

“I’m on top of the world!” (you might recognize this from Titanic).

“She felt on top of the world when she got her big promotion”.


3. On clould nine

This is a really nice idiom that is used to express extreme happiness. There’s a theory that this idiom refers to the most attractive type of cloud (cumulonimbus – the fluffy one, if you’re interested). Use this after the verb to be in past simple, present simple and future simple:

“Are you happy?” “Happy? I’m on cloud nine!”


4. In seventh heaven

This idiom means to be blissfully happy and originates in the Islamic idea of the seven concentric heavens. Use this after the verb to be in past simple, present simple and future simple:

“He was in seventh heaven when his son told him how much he loved him.”


5. A happy bunny

This phrase is used to describe a person who is temporarily happy, in a light-hearted, jokey way. The origin isn’t clear but probably comes from children’s stories where bunnies (rabbits) are depicted as being happy and care-free. Use this after the verb to be in past simple and present simple:

“Your present is perfect. I’m a happy bunny!”

NB: Not a happy bunny is used commonly (perhaps more than the positive version) to describe someone who is temporarily unhappy or bad-tempered.

“My train was 2 hours late. I was not a happy bunny”.


6. Happy as Larry

This phrase is still used but considered a little old-fashioned by some. It describes a person who is temporarily happy and is thought to refer to an Australian boxer who was paid a large sum of money for winning his last fight. Use this after the verb to be in past simple, present simple and future simple:

“I got a new job today. I’m as happy as Larry!”



7. A happy camper

This phrase is used like “a happy bunny” to describe someone who is temporarily happy. The phrase is thought to originate from American summer camps to describe a child who is having a good time at camp. Use this after the verb to be in past simple, present simple and future simple:

“Look at her playing with her toys. She’s a happy camper, isn’t she?”

NB: like with “happy bunny”, the negative is used as commonly as the positive:

“She lost her favourite toy yesterday. She was not a happy camper.”



8. To grin from ear to ear

You can also describe someone’s happiness by talking about their grin (big smile). This phrase describes a grin so big it seems to go from one ear to the other. That’s pretty happy! Use this phrase either in past simple and continuous or present continuous.

“She grinned from ear to ear when she heard the news”.

“Look at them. They’re grinning from ear to ear!”


9. To grin like a Cheshire cat

This phrase is very similar to the one above and originates from Alice in Wonderland. The Cheshire cat in the story often has a big smile on his face. Use the same form as the phrase above.




10. Bursting with joy

This phrase can be used with other nouns too (excitement, happiness etc) to describe a feeling so strong that you can barely contain it. Use this phrase in past or present continuous:

“They were bursting with joy when they met their grandson”.

“I’m bursting with excitement about my new job!”

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