Word Origin & History
O.E. sceawian "to look at, see," from W.Gmc. *skauwojanan (cf. O.S. skauwon "to look at," O.Fris. skawia, Du. schouwen, O.H.G. scouwon "to look at;" Du. schoon, Goth. skaunjai "beautiful," originally "conspicuous"), from P.Gmc. root *skau- "behold, look at," from PIE *skou-, variant of base *skeue-
"to pay attention, perceive" (see caveat
). Causal meaning "let be seen, put in sight, make known" evolved c.1200 for unknown reasons and is unique to Eng. (Ger. schauen still means "look at"). Spelling shew, popular 18c. and surviving into early 19c., represents obsolete pronunciation (rhymes with view).
c.1300, "act of exhibiting to view," from show
(v.). Sense of "appearance put on with intention to deceive" is recorded from c.1526. Meaning "display, spectacle" is first recorded 1561; that of "ostentatious display" is from 1713 (showy is from 1712). Sense of "entertainment
program on radio or TV" is first recorded 1932. Meaning "third place in a horse race" is from 1925, Amer.Eng. Show of hands is attested from 1789; Phrase for show "for appearance's sake" is from c.1700. Show business is attested from 1850; shortened form show biz first attested 1945. Expression the show must go on is first attested 1941. Show-stopper is from 1926; show trial first recorded 1937.