plural mise-en-scènes ˌmē-ˌzäⁿ-ˈsen(z) How to pronounce mise-en-scène (audio)
: the arrangement of actors and scenery on a stage for a theatrical production
: stage setting
: the physical setting of an action (as of a narrative or a motion picture) : context
this ordinary house that became the mise-en-scène of an extraordinary dramaE. M. Lustgarten
: environment, milieu
enjoyed the mise-en-scène of suburban Miami

Did you know?

In French, mise en scène literally means "the action of putting onto the stage." The term's use originated in stage drama, where it refers to the way actors and scenery props are arranged; as its usage expanded into other narrative arts, its meaning shifted. In film production, mise en scène refers to all of the elements that comprise a single shot; that includes, but is not limited to, the actors, setting, props, costumes, and lighting. The director of a play or film is called the metteur en scène—literally, "one who puts on the stage."

Choose the Right Synonym for mise-en-scène

background, setting, environment, milieu, mise-en-scène mean the place, time, and circumstances in which something occurs.

background often refers to the circumstances or events that precede a phenomenon or development.

the shocking decision was part of the background of the riots

setting suggests looking at real-life situations in literary or dramatic terms.

a militant reformer who was born into an unlikely social setting

environment applies to all the external factors that have a formative influence on one's physical, mental, or moral development.

the kind of environment that produces juvenile delinquents

milieu applies especially to the physical and social surroundings of a person or group of persons.

an intellectual milieu conducive to artistic experimentation

mise-en-scène strongly suggests the use of properties to achieve a particular atmosphere or theatrical effect.

a gothic thriller with a carefully crafted mise-en-scène

Examples of mise-en-scène in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web And last night, between 50th and 49th Street, a festive spectacle took place as Saks Fifth Avenue and Dior unveiled their mesmerizing mise-en-scene window display, Dior’s Carousel of Dreams at Saks. Maia Torres, Vogue, 21 Nov. 2023 But the mise-en-scene suffers inexplicably and lacks resonance with our more recent era. Bonnie Johnson, Los Angeles Times, 16 June 2023 Here, an amusing if chaotic mise-en-scene is what’s at center stage. Peter Marks, Washington Post, 20 Apr. 2023 Chairs and a turntable are in fact all the mise-en-scene Lloyd provides. Peter Marks, Washington Post, 10 Mar. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'mise-en-scène.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


French mise en scène

First Known Use

1833, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of mise-en-scène was in 1833


Dictionary Entries Near mise-en-scène

Cite this Entry

“Mise-en-scène.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/mise-en-sc%C3%A8ne. Accessed 23 Feb. 2024.

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