happening or conducted out of view of the general public: The behind-the-scenes preparations made the convention a huge success.
held or kept privately by or among a few key or influential persons: behind-the-scenes negotiations.
occurring backstage: the behind-the-scenes activities of the stage crew.

Nearby words

  1. behind someone's back,
  2. behind the eight ball,
  3. behind the scenes,
  4. behind the times,
  5. behind time,
  6. behindhand,
  7. behistun,
  8. behmen,
  9. behmen, jakob,
  10. behmenism

Origin of behind-the-scenes

First recorded in 1835–45




the place where some action or event occurs: He returned to the scene of the murder.
any view or picture.
an incident or situation in real life.
an embarrassing outbreak or display of anger, strong feeling, or bad manners: Please don't make a scene in such a public place.
a division of a play or of an act of a play, usually representing what passes between certain of the actors in one place.
a unit of action or a segment of a story in a play, motion picture, or television show.
the place in which the action of a play or part of a play is supposed to occur.
  1. an episode, situation, or the like, as in a narrative.
  2. the setting or locale of a story.
the stage, especially of an ancient Greek or Roman theater.
an area or sphere of activity, current interest, etc.: the rock music scene; the fashion scene.

Origin of scene

1530–40; < Latin scēna background (of the stage) < Greek skēnḗ booth (where actors dressed)

1. arena, stage, location; center, focus. 2. See view. 3. episode. 4. demonstration, spectacle, show.

Related formsin·ter·scene, noun

Can be confusedscene seen Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for behind the scenes



the place where an action or event, real or imaginary, occurs
the setting for the action of a play, novel, etc
an incident or situation, real or imaginary, esp as described or represented
  1. a subdivision of an act of a play, in which the time is continuous and the setting fixed
  2. a single event, esp a significant one, in a play
films a shot or series of shots that constitutes a unit of the action
the backcloths, stage setting, etc, for a play or film set; scenery
the prospect of a place, landscape, etc
a display of emotion, esp an embarrassing one to the onlookers
informal the environment for a specific activitythe fashion scene
informal interest or chosen occupationclassical music is not my scene
rare the stage, esp of a theatre in ancient Greece or Rome
behind the scenes out of public view; privately

Word Origin for scene

C16: from Latin scēna theatrical stage, from Greek skēnē tent, stage

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for behind the scenes



1530s, "subdivision of an act of a play," also "stage-setting," from Middle French scène (14c.), from Latin scaena, scena "scene, stage of a theater," from Greek skene "wooden stage for actors," also "that which is represented on stage," originally "tent or booth," related to skia "shadow, shade," via notion of "something that gives shade," from PIE root *skai- "to shine, flicker, glimmer" (see shine (v.)).

Meaning "material apparatus of a theatrical stage" is from 1540s. Meaning "place in which the action of a literary work occurs" is attested from 1590s; general (non-literary) sense of "place where anything is done or takes place" is recorded from 1590s. Hence U.S. slang sense of "setting or milieu for a specific group or activity," attested from 1951 in Beat jargon. Meaning "stormy encounter between two or more persons" is attested from 1761. Behind the scenes "having knowledge of affairs not apparent to the public" (1660s) is an image from the theater, "amid actors and stage machinery" (out of sight of the audience). Scene of the crime (1923) first attested in Agatha Christie.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with behind the scenes

behind the scenes

In secret or private, away from public view, as in His struggle for the top position took place strictly behind the scenes. This term alludes to the various activities that go on behind the curtain in theaters, out of the audience's view. [Late 1700s] Also see behind closed doors.


see behind the scenes; make a scene; make the scene; on the scene; set the scene for.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.