from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The ground or scenery located behind something.
  • n. The part of a pictorial representation that appears to be in the distance and that provides relief for the principal objects in the foreground.
  • n. The general scene or surface against which designs, patterns, or figures are represented or viewed.
  • n. A position or area of relative inconspicuousness or unimportance.
  • n. The circumstances and events surrounding or leading up to an event or occurrence.
  • n. A person's experience, training, and education: Her background in the arts is impressive.
  • n. Subdued music played especially as an accompaniment to dialogue in a dramatic performance.
  • n. Sound that intrudes on or interferes with an audio recording.
  • n. Low-level radiation, as from radioactive decay, that exists as part of the natural environment.
  • idiom on background For publication but without specific attribution of the source: The Senator would only speak on background with the reporter about the crisis.
  • idiom on deep background For publication without any attribution of the source.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. One's social heritage; what one did in the past/previously.
  • n. A part of the picture that depicts scenery to the rear or behind the main subject; context.
  • n. Information relevant to the current situation about past events; history.
  • n. A less important feature of scenery (as opposed to foreground.)
  • n. The image or color, over which a computer's desktop items are show (e.g. icons or application windows).
  • n. Activity on a computer that is not normally visible to the user
  • v. To put in a position that is not prominent

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Ground in the rear or behind, or in the distance, as opposed to the foreground, or the ground in front.
  • n. The space which is behind and subordinate to a portrait or group of figures.
  • n. Anything behind, serving as a foil.
  • n. A place in obscurity or retirement, or out of sight.
  • n. The set of conditions within which an action takes place, including the social and physical conditions as well as the psychological states of the participants.
  • n. The set of conditions that precede and affect an action, such as the social and historical precedents for the event, as well as the general background{5}.
  • n. The signals that may be detected by a measurement which are not due to the phenomenon being studied, and tend to make the measurement uncertain to a greater or lesser degree.
  • n. An agreement between a journalist and an interviewee that the name of the interviewee will not be quoted in any publication, although the substance of the remarks may be reported; -- often used in the phrase “on background”. Compare deep background.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The ground at the back or behind, as opposed to the front; situation in the rear of those objects, considerations, etc., which engage the attention; subordinate or secondary position in contradistinction to principal or important position; place out of sight: used both literally (of physical objects) and figuratively: as, there were mountains in the background; the true reasons for this action were kept in the background.
  • n. Specifically The part of a picture represented as furthest from the spectator's eye: opposed to foreground.
  • n. In photography, the plain or decorated screens, properties, etc., placed behind the subject in taking portraits, especially in regular gallery-work, in order to form an appropriate setting in the finished picture.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. the state of the environment in which a situation exists
  • n. relatively unimportant or inconspicuous accompanying situation
  • n. extraneous signals that can be confused with the phenomenon to be observed or measured
  • v. understate the importance or quality of
  • n. information that is essential to understanding a situation or problem
  • n. the part of a scene (or picture) that lies behind objects in the foreground
  • n. a person's social heritage: previous experience or training
  • n. scenery hung at back of stage
  • n. (computer science) the area of the screen in graphical user interfaces against which icons and windows appear


Sorry, no etymologies found.


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