General English

Media Studies

  • noun a division of an act of a play or opera, presenting continuous action in one place


  • noun the fashionable, hip or currently favoured milieu. A favourite word from the beatnik and later hippy vocabularies, often used in such phrases as ‘make the scene’ (to be present or active in the currently hip environment) and ‘on the scene’. ‘It’s not my scene’ was a common dismissal of an undesirable activity or place. In colloquial usage the word simply means environment or ‘world’, as in ‘the music scene’. The word is now dated but is still used by some journalists and, self-consciously or ironically, by the fashionable young.
  • noun a state of affairs, situation. In this generalised sense the word is now dated.


  • A subdivision of a play, consisting of a single episode withone setting and a continuous time frame; its end is usually markedby the fall of the curtain or an empty stage. In ancient Roman andclassical French dramas, the beginning of a new scene was marked bythe entrance or exit of any actor. Compare ACT.

Origin & History of “scene”

Greek skēnḗ originally meant ‘tent’ (it was related to skiā́ ‘shadow’, a descendant of the same Indo-European base that produced English shimmer and shine, and so etymologically denoted ‘something that gives shade’). such tents or booths were used for presenting plays, and eventually the word skēnḗ came to denote the backdrop against which drama is performed. It passed into English via Latin scaena. The Italian version of the word, scena (itself borrowed into English in the 19th century), has the derivative scenario, which has been acquired by English on two separate occasions: first as scenery (18th c.) and later as scenario (19th c.).