1. Something seen by a viewer; a view or prospect.
2. The place where an action or event occurs: the scene of the crime.
3. The place in which the action of a play, movie, novel, or other narrative occurs; a setting.
a. A subdivision of an act in a dramatic presentation in which the setting is fixed and the time continuous.
b. A shot or series of shots in a movie constituting a unit of continuous related action.
5. A section of a narrative in which the action is depicted through detail and dialogue as if it is occurring in real time: The editor felt the story had too much summary and suggested that the author add more scenes.
a. The scenery and properties for a dramatic presentation.
b. A theater stage.
7. A real or fictitious episode, especially when described.
8. A public display of passion or temper: tried not to make a scene.
a. A sphere of activity: observers of the political scene.
b. Slang A situation or set of circumstances: a bad scene; a wild scene.
behind the scenes
2. Out of public view; in secret.
[French scène, stage, from Middle French, from Latin scaena, ultimately (possibly via Etruscan), from Greek skēnē, tent, building or construction serving as the background for a stage, perhaps originally meaning “shelter providing shade” and akin to Greek skiā, shade.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.