1899, "a movie hall," from French cinéma, shortened from cinématographe "device for projecting a series of photographs in rapid succession so as to produce the illusion of movement," coined 1890s by Lumiere brothers, who invented the technology, from Latinized form of Greek kinemat-, combining form of kinema "movement," from kinein "to move" (from PIE root *keie- "to set in motion") + graphein "to write" (see -graphy).
The word was earlier in English in its fuller form, cinematograph (1896), but this has been displaced by the short form. Other old words for such a system were vitascope (Edison, 1895), animatograph (1898). Meaning "movies collectively, especially as an art form" recorded by 1914. Cinéma vérité is 1963, from French.
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