box office

See also: box-office


A theatrical box office
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Alternative formsEdit


1786,[1] presumably from sales of boxes, box seats (separated private seating).[2][3] Sense of “total sales” from 1904.[1]

Folk etymology is that this derives from Elizabethan theatre, where theater admission was collected in a box attached to a long stick, passed around the audience.[2][3] However, first attestation is over a century later (theaters were closed in 1642), making this highly unlikely.



box office (countable and uncountable, plural box offices)

  1. (countable, film, theater) A place where tickets are sold in a theatre/theater or cinema.
  2. (uncountable, by extension, film) the total amount of money paid by people worldwide to watch a movie at cinemas/movie theaters.


Derived termsEdit


See alsoEdit


  1. 1.0 1.1 Douglas Harper (2001–2021), “box-office”, in Online Etymology Dictionary.
  2. 2.0 2.1 William and Mary Morris, Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins, HarperCollins, New York, 1977, 1988
  3. 3.0 3.1 Robert Hendrickson, Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins, Facts on File, New York, 1997