Wrap = "Wind, Reel and Print" (and variants)

Bonnie Taylor-Blake taylor-blake at NC.RR.COM
Sun Feb 26 17:01:59 UTC 2006

Here's a bit of faux etymology to follow up Ben Zimmer's earlier look at
"it's a wrap" (see [1] and [2], below).  I've recently learned that there is
an impression that "wrap" (in movie-industry parlance) is an acronym, with
roots in the old days of film-making.


[From Fiona Parker's "Letters:  Question Time," The Mirror [UK], 23 February
2006, p. 47.]

*Q*  WHY do directors say: "It's a wrap," at the end of filming? -- C
Andrews, S London

*A*  FILMS were originally made using celluloid to capture the images. When
filming was over the director gave the instruction: "Wind, Reel And Print."
They just shortened it to wrap.


The earliest vectoring that I can find of "wrap" as an acronym appeared in
1997 (see [3], below).  (I've also tacked on a few representative sightings,
all from British sources, that have appeared since.)

I'd be grateful, though, if someone might try digging around and unearthing
an earlier occurrence or two.

-- Bonnie

or http://tinyurl.com/l9nlm

&I=-3 or http://tinyurl.com/mkfw7


[From Peter Ward's _Multi-camera Camerawork_.  Oxford:  Focal Press, 1997.]

The word "wrap" is apparently an old film term used at the end of the day to
confirm that the film could be taken out of the camera.  It is an
abbreviation for "wind, reel and print."  Wrap confirms that the day's work
has finished.  [p. 215]

[From an entry at Sir Ian McKellen's website,
http://www.mckellen.com/cinema/xmen/lair/01/991110.htm, 10 November 1999.]

It's not all over in the opera 'til the fat lady sings or in the theatre
'til the curtain falls; and in movies everything is unpredictable, until the
assistant director announces a final "Wrap" ("Wind Reel And Print").

[McKellen again, http://www.mckellen.com/epost/x000324.htm, 24 March 2000.]

"I think final filming wrapped the first week in March. 'WRAP' stands for
the closing of a day's shooting in the days of hand-cranked cameras: 'Wind
Reel And Print'."

[From Pat Silver-Laskey.  _Screenwriting in the 21st Century_.  London: B.T.
Batsford, 2004.]

A WRAP:  The completion of the last shot on principal photography as in,
"It's a wrap", ('WRAP' was originally an acronym derived from the command
'Wind, Reel and Print').  [p. 127]

[From Julian Wilson's "A Guide to the MRCGP Video," *The Practitioner*, 10
November 2005, p. 783.]

There can't be many of us who haven't at some time wanted to play the cool,
confident film director and shout It's a WRAP!' (meaning wind, reel and
print') at the end of a day's shooting.

[From blogger Giles Meehan's 29 January 2006 entry at

So it's a wrap for Episode 5 now! And I never knew until I was listening to
Chris Evans on Radio 2 yesterday, that a "wrap" in filming is actually short
for "Wind Reel and Print". Which is what they told the cameraman to do when
they'd finished filming. Apparently.

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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