What does the idiom "behind the scenes" mean?

Idioms are generally defined as groups of words that form a meaningful whole when they come together, even though the words in them do not make sense on their own. They have produced many idioms according to their own cultural characteristics in communities using the English language. What does behind the scenes mean? In what situations is behind the scenes used?

Meaning of "behind the scenes"


The phrase “behind the scenes” typically refers to activities that are not visible to the public, but still have a strong influence on the outcome of a situation. It can refer to the work, decisions, negotiations, and other activities that take place away from the public eye in order to produce a desired result. Generally, the phrase is used when describing activities that are kept away from public knowledge, but are still critical to the success of a project or plan.


The phrase “behind the scenes” first appeared in print in 1824 as part of the novel Tom Cringle’s Log by Michael Scott. The phrase originally referred to theatrical operations such as the movement of props, costume changes, and other activities that took place outside the view of the audience during a performance. From this, the term has evolved to become an idiom with a much wider range of meanings.


The phrase “behind the scenes” is often used to refer to activities happening within a particular situation or organization that the public is unaware of. It can be used in both a literal or figurative sense. For example, a company may be working “behind the scenes” to develop a new product or a negotiator may be working “behind the scenes” to reach a resolution to a conflict. It can also be used to describe the private deliberations of a decision-making body on a particular issue or project.

Example Sentences

  • The politician was working behind the scenes to negotiate a compromise between the two sides.
  • The committee was meeting behind the scenes to decide on the best course of action.
  • The production team was working diligently behind the scenes to ensure a successful show.

The meanings of the words in the "behind the scenes" idiom

The universal role of idioms

"Kill two birds with one stone" is an English idiom that means to accomplish two things with a single action. In French, the similar idiom is "Faire d'une pierre deux coups," which translates to "To kill two birds with one stone." This idiom highlights the efficiency of completing two tasks with one action.


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