background meaning

[ 'bækgraund ] Pronunciation:   "background" in a sentence
  • Noun: background  'bak`grawnd
    1. A person's social heritage: previous experience or training
      "he is a lawyer with a sports background" 
    2. The part of a scene (or picture) that lies behind objects in the foreground
      "he posed her against a background of rolling hills"
      - ground 
    3. Information that is essential to understanding a situation or problem
      "the embassy filled him in on the background of the incident"
      - background knowledge 
    4. Extraneous signals that can be confused with the phenomenon to be observed or measured
      "they got a bad connection and could hardly hear one another over the background signals"
      - background signal 
    5. Relatively unimportant or inconspicuous accompanying situation
      "when the rain came he could hear the sound of thunder in the background" 
    6. The state of the environment in which a situation exists
      - setting, scope 
    7. (computer science) the area of the screen in graphical user interfaces against which icons and windows appear
      - desktop, screen background 
    8. Scenery hung at back of stage
      - backdrop, backcloth
    Verb: background  'bak`grawnd
    1. Understate the importance or quality of
      - play down, downplay

    Derived forms: backgrounds, backgrounding, backgrounded

    See also: backgrounder

    Type of: accent, accentuate, accompaniment, aspect, attendant, concomitant, co-occurrence, CRT screen, disturbance, emphasise [Brit], emphasize, environment, heritage, information, inheritance, interference, noise, panorama, prospect, punctuate, scene, scenery, screen, stress, view, vista

    Antonym: foreground

    Encyclopedia: Background

  • [Business]
    noun [C]


    the details of a person's experience, education, family, etc:

    The job would suit somebody with a publishing background.


    the circumstances or past events which help explain why sth is how it is; information about these:

    Gather plenty of background information on the company before your interview.

    Can you give me more background on the company's financial position?

    3 (IT )

    the part of a computer where a program can continue to operate while the user is working with another program:

    programs running in the background

  • [Computer]
    1. <operating system> A task running in the background (a background task) is detached from the terminal where it was started (and often running at a lower priority); opposite of foreground. This means that the task's input and output must be from/to files (or other processes).

    Nowadays this term is primarily associated with Unix, but it appears to have been first used in this sense on OS/360.

    Compare amp off, batch, slopsucker.

    2. <jargon> For a human to do a task "in the background" is to do it whenever foreground matters are not claiming your undivided attention, and "to background" something means to relegate it to a lower priority. "For now, we'll just print a list of nodes and links; I'm working on the graph-printing problem in the background." Note that this implies ongoing activity but at a reduced level or in spare time, in contrast to mainstream "back burner" (which connotes benign neglect until some future resumption of activity). Some people prefer to use the term for processing that they have queued up for their unconscious minds (often a fruitful tack to take upon encountering an obstacle in creative work).


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  1. your background is entirely implausible.
  2. not much is known about his background.
  3. there is now a background of experimental date.
  4. little is known about the historical background
  5. he kept discreetly in the background.

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PC Version