"shining, brightness," 1602 (first attested in "Hamlet" iii.2), noun use of adjective sheene "beautiful, bright," from Old English scene, sciene "beautiful; bright, brilliant," from Proto-Germanic *skauniz "conspicuous" (source also of Old Frisian skene, Middle Dutch scone, Dutch schoon, Old High German skoni, German schön "fair, beautiful;" Gothic skaunjai "beautiful"), from PIE root *keu- "to see, observe, perceive." It is related to show (v.).
Meaning "film of oil on water" is from 1970. As an adjective now only in poetic or archaic use, but in Middle English used after a woman's name, or as a noun, "fair one, beautiful woman."
updated on October 25, 2017