View Full Version : Language/historical question - "Box Office"?
12-03-2005, 05:25 PM
Going to the cinema today to book my tickets for "The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe", a question struck me.
The place you buy the tickets is the "Box Office", because most theatres had boxes which contained the most expensive seats - indeed, many still do. My question is; was there ever a _seperate_ counter/window/etc where the less well-off theatre-goers bought tickets for the stalls or the gallery? If so, (a) what was it called, (b) why isn't the modern-day general-purpose window called that?
12-04-2005, 05:12 AM
12-04-2005, 05:20 AM
I always thought it was called a Box Office because it's very little. Like working in a box. (Have you ever seen a big box office?)
12-04-2005, 05:40 AM
Yeah, the first cinemas it was literally a tiny little office, separate from the rest of the rooms, in a very box-like configuration. And it's where the ticket takings are collected, so naturally it's the part that matters in terms of income generated.
12-04-2005, 07:27 AM
I have always heard that the term "box office" was a carryover from the days when shows and circuses traveled by train - you therefore bought your tickets at the box(car) office.
12-04-2005, 09:08 AM
Dictionary.com (http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=box+office) would seem to confirm the box-seat-purchasing theory (half way down page). Perhaps in former times only boxes were sold from the box office, cheaper seats being more like a pay-as-you-enter type of affair.
12-04-2005, 09:13 AM
My question is; was there ever a _seperate_ counter/window/etc where the less well-off theatre-goers bought tickets for the stalls or the gallery? If so, (a) what was it called, (b) why isn't the modern-day general-purpose window called that?
The term "Box Office" to mean the place where you purchased your ticked is first recorded in print in 1786 in England. The term originally came from "the hiring of a box" per the OED. So we can forget about trains, cinemas and the like.
The term "box" used in a theatrical sense first appears in 1609, and according to the Oxford English Dictionary 8. a. A seated compartment in a theatre, at first specially for ladies; often qualified, as front-, private-, side-, stage-, upper-, etc. In pl. collectively for a distinct part of the auditorium.
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