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Floating on cloud nine

What does the expression ‘You’re toast’ mean? (J Amol, Pune)

The expression is mostly used in American English, and its use is limited to informal contexts. When you tell someone he is toast, you mean that he is in serious trouble; what he has done is likely to result in his ruin. The expression can also be used to mean ‘defeated’.

If the global markets continue to slide, our company is toast.

Kiran’s career was toast the moment his boss caught him kissing his daughter.

With 110 runs to get in four overs, India is toast.

How is the word ‘minion’ pronounced? (V. Raghunathan, Chennai)

The first syllable rhymes with ‘win’, ‘pin’ and ‘fin’, and the second ‘i’ is like the ‘y’ in ‘yes’ and ‘yesterday’. The ‘o’ is like the ‘a’ in ‘china’. The word is pronounced ‘MIN-yen’ with the stress on the first syllable. A minion is an underling; he is an insignificant person with little or no authority. He works for someone who is important and merely does as he is told. In movies, for example, the villain usually surrounds himself with minions. The word is used to show disapproval.

Rajiv sent one of his minions to hand over the package.

Sahana treats my friend Pankaj like her minion.

What is the meaning and origin of ‘on cloud nine’? (V Tirupati Rao, Anakapalle)

When someone says that he is on ‘cloud nine’, what he means is that he is extremely happy about something. The person is in a state of absolute bliss. As far as he is concerned, everything is perfect; God is in His Heaven and all is right with the world.

My neighbour was on cloud nine when he heard that Trump had won.

Rima wasn’t just pleased when Ashwin proposed to her. She was on cloud nine.

Though there are many theories, no one is really sure about the origin of this rather strange expression. Some believe that meteorologists (weathermen) refer to the thunderstorm cloud as ‘cloud nine’ - and this cloud, in some instances, has been known to rise to a height of 70, 000 feet. So, if you are on one of these clouds and looking down, you have every reason to feel happy - unless of course, you are scared of heights!

Which is correct: ‘different from’ or ‘different than’? (Neha Asrani, Chennai)

There was a time when experts on usage considered ‘different than’ to be wrong. But now you find native speakers of English using both. In terms of meaning, there is no difference between them. ‘Different than’ is much more common in American English. The British, on the other hand, prefer ‘different from’ and ‘different to’. The three can be used interchangeably in most contexts.

Biswajit says that his new boss is very different from/than his old one.

The way we celebrate our new year is very different from/to the way you celebrate yours.


“If you’re in the game long enough, you’re going to be the toast of the town one day, and the next day, you’ll be toast.”

— Alan K Simpson

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Printable version | Oct 12, 2021 4:39:36 AM |

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