Origin of "beside oneself"

What is the etymology of the phrase “beside oneself”, as in the statement, “When George heard that Phyllis was baking chocolate-chip cookies, he was beside himself with glee?” :confused:


I’m sure there are many variations on this theme.

It apparently originated in the 1300’s when the word beside had a different meaning than it does today. From another board (matches with other sources):

“Beside” has an obsolete sense meaning outside of or away from. It was current in the 14th through 17th centuries.

One subset of these older meaning survices, in the form “beside oneself,” meaning not one’s self, not in the usual mental condition. The form dates to the late-15th century.


Thank you, I had quite forgotten about the Greek word Ecstasis. I am beginning to feel more comfortable, now.

Welcome, Poet.

I’ve changed your thread title to be more descriptive. That gets more replies.

I’d be more comfortable if you chose a different color scheme for your type. That one irritates.


samclem GQ moderator

Ahh, so the transports of ecstasy leave us beside ourselves.
Possibly with a grape. :wink:

Thank you, SamClem for your remarks. For future postings I will limit my use of color, however drab that may render my question.

Squink, your comment gives me pause, why were it not for the grape many a writer would not be known.

Use any color you chose. That pale yellow? and things like it cause many a poster eyestrain to read.

BTW, I just got back from Arlington, seeing the parents. Born and raised there.

Your restraint in registering in 2002 but not posting until 2006 is remarkable.

It was not restraint. I have been an idea voyeur for thse past few years. Now, I trying to find my voice.

Perhaps I should try spelling correctly.

I always think of the Indian-American scientist in Short Circuit, saying, “I am standing here beside myself.” I love it.


We’re not just talking about dionysian scribes from Omar Khayyam to Bukowski, either:

Gutenberg’s revolutionary invention was a slightly-modified winepress.

“get out of the city.”