In the 1870s and 1880s, the word "entertainment" conveyed a sense of wasteful self-indulgence. The term "recreation," while respectable, encompassed activities far beyond the scope of legitimate theatre. Thus, the word "amusements" often served both as the header for the theatre column in newspapers and as the category under which opera houses were listed in city directories. Meanwhile, theatre managers took up the term "attractions." Amusements were regarded as wholesome distractions from the cares of everyday life.

The Historical Dictionary of the American Theater. .

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