mid-14c., "upright piece of furniture providing protection from heat of a fire, drafts, etc.," probably from a shortened (Anglo-French? compare Anglo-Latin screna) variant of Old North French escren, Old French escran "fire-screen" (early 14c.), perhaps from Middle Dutch scherm "screen, cover, shield," or Frankish *skrank "barrier," from Proto-Germanic *skerm- (source also of Old High German skirm, skerm "protection," from PIE root *sker- (1) "to cut."
Meaning "net-wire frame used in windows and doors" is recorded from 1859. Meaning "flat vertical surface for reception of projected images" is from 1810, originally in reference to magic lantern shows; later of movies. Transferred sense of "cinema world collectively" is attested from 1914; hence screen test (1918), etc. Screen saver first attested 1990. Screen printing recorded from 1918.