Origins of Common Words - Ecstasy

About the history, origins, and definitions of the common word ecstasy.


Ecstasy - Not so long ago, it was generally believed that the soul could, and sometimes did, actually leave the body, such as when a person saw a vision or went into a trance. Such a state was termed "ecstasy," from the Greek ek, "out," and stasis, "a standing." Until recently the word was most commonly associated with a morbid state, as with a temporary religious insanity. The dancing epidemics of Germany and Italy in the Middle Ages were celebrated examples of ecstasy. However, its present connotation, that of a kind of rapturous delight, was not lost upon Milton, who wrote in "II Penseroso":

As may with sweetness, through mine ear, Dissolve me into ecstasies.

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