Beside myself

Posted by ESC on August 11, 2001

In Reply to: "Beside myself with joy" posted by R. Berg on August 11, 2001

: : What does the expression, "Beside myself with joy", mean.

: : Thanks

: It means experiencing extreme joy. "Beside" was formerly (15th through 19th centuries) used in phrases to mean "out of a mental state or condition, as 'beside one's patience, one's gravity, one's wits'" (Oxford Engl. Dict.), and that use survives only in "'beside oneself': out of one's wits, out of one's senses."

"Beside himself. Why do we describe a distraught person as being 'beside himself'? Because the ancients believed that soul and body could part and that under great emotional stress the soul would actually leave the body. When this happened a person was 'beside himself.' This same thought is to be found in 'out of his mind'; and in 'estasy' too. 'Ecstasy' is from the Greek and literally means 'to stand out of.'" From Dictionary of Word Origins by Jordan Almond (Carol Publishing Group, Secaucus, N.J., 1998)