set the scene for

Idioms & Phrases

set the scene for

Also, set the stage for. Provide the underlying basis or background for, make likely or inevitable, as in Their fights about money set the scene for a divorce, or The comptroller's assessment of the firm's finances set the stage for a successful bond issue. These expressions allude to arranging a play's actors and properties on a theatrical stage. The first term dates from the late 1700s, the variant from the late 1800s.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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