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A sentence I read this morning,

The reason the running back got his new monster contract in the first place is that he was performing out of his mind – and was bound, therefore, to fall back to earth a bit. So the team made the same mistake that a lot of stock-market investors make: they bought high.

If so, how frequently do people use this phrase for such a meaning? Thanks.

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3 Answers 3

In this sentence the phrase out of his mind can be interpreted as meaning something like "performing at a level so high that it is both unbelievable and unsustainable." I wouldn't say this is a common usage of the phrase, but it is also not uncommon, meaning it is seen occasionally. It is a highly colloquial usage, however, and (obviously) it causes problems for those unfamiliar with it, especially if the context is not superb.

The more common definition of the phrase is:

unable to behave or deal with things normally because something has made you very worried, unhappy or angry

With that, it becomes more clear how the two phrases are related, at least tangentially.

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"Out of one's mind" normally means "crazy." Usually, it's a pejorative. But in this context, it meant that the player's performance was "crazily" GOOD. Which is why he got a "good" contract.

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I have seen "performing out of his skin" meaning 'better than he's ever done before', which would have fitted here. Perhaps the writer misremembered the phrase or thought to 'improve' it? (I believe the origin was about a very fit and willing horse , 'ready to jump out of his skin if asked'.)

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