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Where does the phrase "to steal the show" come from? Lately I've heard it used for a movie.

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

When someone or something steals the show, they are the unexpected focus of (positive) attention. If you go to a movie starring George Clooney, but realize afterward that all the scenes with a relatively unknown actress are the ones that you enjoyed most, you could say that the actress has stolen the show; you went with the expectation of enjoying George Clooney but found yourself largely ignoring him in favor of focusing on someone else entirely.

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It means to focus (or steal) all the attention at an event (you're stealing all the attention of the show).

The New Oxford American Dictionary says: “to attract the most attention and praise”.

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