A reader has asked for a comment on
the difference between “camera” and ”in camera.”
The word we use for a “picture-taking device” comes from Latin
camera, “an arched or vaulted roof or room.” The English word chamber, “room,” comes from the same Latin word.
Camera in its architectural sense exists in English as a place name: that of the Radcliffe Library at the University of Oxford.
The evolution of the word for a room to mean a picture-taking device comes from the Latin term camera obscura:
￼camera ob￼scura [L.; lit. ‘dark chamber’]. a. Optics. An instrument consisting of a darkened chamber or box, into which light is admitted through a double convex lens, forming an image of external objects on a surface of paper, glass, etc., placed at the focus of the lens. –OED
The expression in camera, literally “in the room,” is used in the sense of “privately” or “secretly.” When the judge calls opposing attorneys to meet with him “in chambers,” they are meeting in camera.
In looking for examples on the web, I found that some writers hyphenate the two words.
When a board meeting goes in-camera, should the minutes of the in-camera portion be separated as distinct and separate minutes or simply show… that the board moved into in-camera and then just indicate any resolutions that arose?
The Board may meet in camera if the subject matter deals with…
Civic in-camera meetings misused
The second part of our meeting is going to be in camera while we discuss our report on our refugee determination system and illegal migrants.
The only exceptions are matters dealt with at in camera presentations and de facto decision-making preceding formal decision-making.
Iqaluit council bars Little from in-camera meetings
So far, both the OED and Merriam-Webster agree that the expression is written as two words: in camera.