I found myself looking up the etymology of crime scene the other day. I had a feeling it was a bit modern…and I was right. The original phrase was actually scene of the crime (makes sense) and was coined by Agatha Christie in 1923.

But there were some other interesting facts to learn about scene while I was there. Not surprisingly, the word comes straight from Latin (via Old French), with the expected meaning of “a subdivision of a play.” What I didn’t realize was that is shares a root with shine–the original Latin and Greek words carried a notion of the physical stage or booth that actors used too, and hence were similar to shade and Shine.

The “part of a play” meaning existed in English from the 1530s…by the 1540s it could be used for the physical apparatus of a stage…and by the 1590s, it had taken on “the place in with a literary work occurs” and therefore also a general setting or place where anything occurs, not just literary work.

You could go “behind the scenes” of something by the 1660s. And by 1761, people could “make a scene” with their stormy outbursts.

Not that I would ever do such a thing… 😉

Have a lovely week!

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