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What Does "Head in the Clouds" Mean?

Literal clouds, the inspiration for the term "head in the clouds.".
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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 09 July 2014
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When a person is described as having his head in the clouds, this usually means he is given to acting on whims or thinking unrealistically. The description can be used to indicate both behavior and thought, and may also be used to describe someone who is scatterbrained. It is important to note that this phrase does not truly mean a person's head is in clouds, or even anywhere near them. Instead, this phrase is an idiom, which is a figurative expression that is not meant to be translated literally.

The phrase "head in the clouds" typically means a person is the opposite of serious and level headed. A person who is described in this manner may be given to whimsical thoughts or flighty behavior. He may seem scatterbrained, careless, or even out of touch with reality. He may fail to make good choices in life because he does not take things seriously. For example, he may spend his grocery budget on treating friends to an expensive dinner simply because he does not grasp, or chooses not to consider, the serious consequences of this type of act.

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If a person is described as having his head in the clouds, this can refer to either his thoughts or his behavior. In fact, in some cases, it may refer to both. For example, a person may be described as having unrealistic thoughts, and people who know him may assert that it seems as if he does not think at all. At the same time, his unrealistic thoughts may influence the choices he makes and lead him to flighty, irresponsible behavior. Sometimes an adult who is described in this way may even seem childlike because others cannot depend on him to notice or understand what is happening around him; he may feel more concerned with what he wants at all times rather than what is best for him and others.

An individual could choose to describe someone who has his head in the clouds as flighty or scatterbrained. Both of these words get right to the point. Often, however, people choose to use non-literal expressions called idioms in their speech. These words make the same point as such words as flighty and scatterbrained, but make them in a more colorful or dramatic fashion. Usually, these types of phrases are used in casual conversations and writing. They may be heard less often in formal speech and writing.

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Discuss this Article

tigers88
Post 3

Dies anyone know where the term head in the clouds came from? I am always interested in word and phrase origins and this is one of my favorites.

It is a fairly literal phrase that seemingly anyone could have come up with.

ZsaZsa56
Post 2

Head in the clouds conjures up such a nice image in the mind. I picture a person whose head has become a balloon and floated up above the clouds. It is connected to their body with a delicate string.

gravois
Post 1

I have a real problem with loosing my head in the clouds. I will be walking down the street and walk right into a mail box. Or I will be driving my car and miss my exit on the highway because I am not paying attention.

I am not stupid, I am just distracted. I have a lot on my mind and sometimes it is easier to focus on what you have in your head than what is in front of you. I don't think it is a bad thing. I would rather walk into a mailbox than have no imagination.

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