Definitions for backgroundˈbækˌgraʊnd

This page provides all possible meanings and translations of the word background

Random House Webster's College Dictionary


  1. the ground or parts, as of a scene, situated in the rear

    Ref: (opposed to foreground ).

  2. the part of a painted or carved surface against which represented objects and forms are perceived or depicted.

    Category: Fine Arts

  3. one's origin, education, experience, etc., in relation to one's present character or status:

    a religious background.

  4. the social, historical, and other antecedents or causes of an event or condition:

    the background of the war.

  5. the set of conditions against which an occurrence is perceived.

  6. Also called back′ground radia`tion. the natural low-intensity radiation from cosmic rays and naturally occurring radioisotopes in rocks, soil, etc. intrusive sound or radiation that tends to interfere with the transmission or reception of electronic signals.

    Category: Physics

  7. (adj.)of, pertaining to, or serving as a background:

    background noise.

  8. (v.t.)to supply a background for.

    Category: Common Vocabulary

Idioms for background:

  1. in or into the background,in or into a state of less importance or visibility.

    Category: Idiom

Origin of background:


Princeton's WordNet

  1. background(noun)

    a person's social heritage: previous experience or training

    "he is a lawyer with a sports background"

  2. background, ground(noun)

    the part of a scene (or picture) that lies behind objects in the foreground

    "he posed her against a background of rolling hills"

  3. background, background knowledge(noun)

    information that is essential to understanding a situation or problem

    "the embassy filled him in on the background of the incident"

  4. background, background signal(noun)

    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"

  5. background(noun)

    relatively unimportant or inconspicuous accompanying situation

    "when the rain came he could hear the sound of thunder in the background"

  6. setting, background, scope(noun)

    the state of the environment in which a situation exists

    "you can't do that in a university setting"

  7. background, desktop, screen background(noun)

    (computer science) the area of the screen in graphical user interfaces against which icons and windows appear

  8. backdrop, background, backcloth(verb)

    scenery hung at back of stage

  9. background, play down, downplay(verb)

    understate the importance or quality of

    "he played down his royal ancestry"

Kernerman English Learner's Dictionary

  1. background(noun)ˈækgrˌaʊnd

    experiences sb has had, and the place and family sb comes from

    She has a background in primary education.; people from different cultural backgrounds

  2. backgroundˈækgrˌaʊnd

    ≠ foreground

    three figures in the background; to change the background on my computer

  3. backgroundˈækgrˌaʊnd

    quiet sounds below the main sound

    could hear voices in the background; background music/noise

  4. backgroundˈækgrˌaʊnd

    a setting for an event or story

    a story set against the background of the American Civil War

  5. backgroundˈækgrˌaʊnd

    not being noticed

    his assistant working quietly in the background


  1. background(Noun)

    One's social heritage; what one did in the past/previously.

    The lawyer had a background in computer science.

  2. background(Noun)

    A part of the picture that depicts scenery to the rear or behind the main subject; context.

  3. background(Noun)

    Information relevant to the current situation about past events; history.

  4. background(Noun)

    A less important feature of scenery (as opposed to foreground.)

  5. background(Noun)

    The image or color, over which a computer's desktop items are show (e.g. icons or application windows).

  6. background(Noun)

    Activity on a computer that is not normally visible to the user

    The antivirus program is running in the background.

  7. background(Verb)

    To put in a position that is not prominent

Webster Dictionary

  1. Background(noun)

    ground in the rear or behind, or in the distance, as opposed to the foreground, or the ground in front

  2. Background(noun)

    the space which is behind and subordinate to a portrait or group of figures

  3. Background(noun)

    anything behind, serving as a foil; as, the statue had a background of red hangings

  4. Background(noun)

    a place in obscurity or retirement, or out of sight

The New Hacker's Dictionary

  1. background

    [common] To do a task in 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 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 (a tack that one can often fruitfully take upon encountering an obstacle in creative work). Compare amp off, slopsucker.Technically, a task running in background is detached from the terminal where it was started (and often running at a lower priority); oppose foreground. Nowadays this term is primarily associated with Unix, but it appears to have been first used in this sense on OS/360.


  1. Background process

    A background process is a computer process that runs "behind the scenes" and without user intervention. Typical tasks for these processes include logging, system monitoring, scheduling, and user notification. On a Windows system, this term may be used to either refer to a computer program that does not create a user interface, or a Windows service. The former are started just as any other program is started, e.g. via Start menu. Windows services, on the other hand, are started by Service Control Manager. In Windows Vista and later, they are run in a separate session. There is no limit on how much a system service or background process can use system resources. Indeed in Windows Server family of Microsoft operating systems, background processes are expected to be the principle consumers. On a Unix or Unix-like system, a background process or job can be further identified as one whose group ID differs from its terminal group ID. This type of process is unable to receive keyboard signals from and typically will not send output to its parent terminal. This more technical definition does not distinguish between whether or not the process can receive user intervention.

British National Corpus

  1. Spoken Corpus Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'background' in Spoken Corpus Frequency: #1709

  2. Written Corpus Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'background' in Written Corpus Frequency: #1685

  3. Nouns Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'background' in Nouns Frequency: #678

Translations for background

Kernerman English Multilingual Dictionary


the space behind the principal or most important figures or objects of a picture etc

He always paints ships against a background of stormy skies; trees in the background of the picture.

Get even more translations for background »


Find a translation for the background definition in other languages:

Select another language:

Discuss these background definitions with the community:


Use the citation below to add this definition to your bibliography:


"background." STANDS4 LLC, 2014. Web. 21 Dec. 2014. <>.

Are we missing a good definition for background?

The Web's Largest Resource for

Definitions & Translations

A Member Of The STANDS4 Network

Nearby & related entries:

Alternative searches for background: