sneak preview

Arnold Zwicky zwicky at STANFORD.EDU
Wed Jan 27 13:36:26 UTC 2010

On Jan 27, 2010, at 1:06 AM, Victor Steinbok wrote:

> I don't have any references on hand (not even an OED) and this is
> not a
> particularly scholarly endeavor because of it, but I was curious when
> "sneak preview" entered the lexicon. Does OED have an entry? Is
> there a
> possible theatre usage that predates film? [It so much easier when
> someone else originates a query by looking in the OED first!]

OED2 has a sneak- a. entry, with this in it:

sneak preview orig. U.S., a showing of a (usually unnamed) cinematic
film prior to regular release, to test audience reaction; also transf.
and fig.; hence sneak-preview v. trans., (a) to show (a film) in a
sneak preview; (b) to have a sneak preview of (something)

[with cites from 1938 on]

plus, under sneak n.:

U.S. colloq. = sneak preview [with cites from 1941 on]


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