What Does Walking on Air Mean?

Walking on Air Meaning

Definition: To feel overjoyed or ecstatic.

Origin of Walk on Air

This expression sounds modern, but it actually dates back to the late-1800s. A similar expression, which also means to be very happy, is on cloud nine.

An early example can be found in John Keats poem Isabella:

  • Parting they seemed to tread upon the air, Twin roses by the zephyr blown apart only to meet again more close.

The idea behind it is that if you are really happy, you often feel like you are high in the air, or floating. This same idea that up means happy can be seen in other expressions such as high spirits, light hearted, and upbeat. Even the synonym elated comes from the Latin word meaning carried away or lifted up. The opposite, which is that down means sad, appears in examples like feeling down, low spirits, depressed, a downer, and heavy hearted.

The idiom walk on air usually appears in the progressive form as walking on air. It is even possible you have experienced this feeling yourself. Many people feel like their feet, or even their whole bodies, are heavy when they are depressed or going through a difficult time.

Conversely, if a person is feeling great they may feel energetic and weightless.

Examples of Walk on Air

walking on air idiom meaningIn the example below, two siblings are discussing the new job that one of them just got.

Jordan: You’ll never believe what happened?

James: What is it?

Jordan: I just had an interview for my dream job, and they offered me the position! And what’s even better is that they’ll pay me a decent amount and even provide free housing.

James: That’s amazing! You’ve wanted that job for years! You must be walking on air right now!

Jordan: I am! I couldn’t be happier.

walking on air meansIn the second dialogue, two coworkers are discussing an exciting life event.

Job: You look happy today. You’re positively glowing! Did something awesome happen?

Melissa: I’m so glad that you asked! My boyfriend proposed to me at dinner last night!

Job: I suppose you said yes?

Melissa: Of course! I love him so much, and I can’t ask for anything more in life than to spend it with him. I am ecstatic and walking on air right now!

Job: I’m so happy for you!

More Examples

This excerpt is about a former professional basketball player who came back to visit his team during a game.

  • Sprewell attended the Knicks-Bucks game in Milwaukee last month, when he spoke with Knicks public relations director Jonathan Supranowitz about returning to the Garden. A source said Sprewell was “walking on air’’ Sunday to be back. –New York Post

The second excerpt is from an article about a midlife crisis.

  • “Like a lot of dreams, people attach fantastical expectations to it: When I get to be a full professor, I’m going to walk on air because I’ll be so happy,” Levant said. “But once you get to be an established adult, your life becomes more or less routine: You have child care, time with your partner — there isn’t a great big rush that everyone imagines.” –Chicago Tribune


The phrase walking on air means to feel extremely happy.