What does the idiom "be beside oneself with anger" mean?

You are wondering about the meaning of the phrase be beside oneself with anger, maybe you heard it in a TV show, movie or theater play. Although this idiom is not used very often, it enriches your capacity of expression and strengthens communication. In which case is the expression be beside oneself with anger used and what is its meaning?

Meaning of "be beside oneself with anger"

Meaning

To be beside oneself with anger means to be so angry or outraged that one has lost all control and reason. This is an idiomatic expression, and one that is used to describe the intensity of an emotion. It is generally used to describe how a person is feeling in the moment, and not a long-term emotional state.

Etymology

The expression ‘beside oneself’ is believed by some to have originated in the late seventeenth century. It is thought to derive from the Greek word, ‘ekstasis’, which means to stand outside of oneself. This suggests the idea of being so overwhelmed by an emotion that one cannot think clearly. The adverb ‘beside’ was then added to this to create the phrase ‘beside oneself’, to indicate the sense of being outside oneself. In the nineteenth century, the phrase ‘beside oneself with anger’ began to be used to describe intense feelings, such as when someone is in danger of loosing control due to their rage.

Usage

The phrase ‘beside oneself with anger’ is commonly used in spoken and written language to describe a person’s reaction to a situation. It can be used to portray a character’s feelings in a story, to describe someone’s behaviour in real life, or to give advice about how to manage difficult emotions. For example, a character in a book could be described as ‘beside themselves with anger’ to give the reader a sense of the intensity of the emotion they are feeling. Similarly, an advice column might suggest that someone who is in danger of ‘going off the rails’ due to anger should take a step back and ‘calm down’ before they ‘go beside themselves with anger’.

Example Sentences

  • "He was so beside himself with anger that he was shaking."
  • "I could see that she was beside herself with anger, and I had no choice but to leave the room."
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The meanings of the words in the "be beside oneself with anger" idiom

Idioms with similar meanings in different languages

"Barking up the wrong tree" is an English idiom that means to pursue a mistaken or misguided course of action. In German, the similar idiom is "Auf dem Holzweg sein," which translates to "To be on the wrong track." This idiom emphasizes the idea that when you are pursuing the wrong course of action, you are not going to achieve your desired outcome.

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