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  1. Also called, especially British, back-cloth. Theater. the rear curtain of a stage setting.
  2. the background of an event; setting.
  3. Gymnastics. a maneuver in which a trampolinist jumps in the air, lands on the back with the arms and legs pointed upward, and then springs up to a standing position.
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verb (used with object), back·dropped or back·dropt, back·drop·ping.
  1. to provide a setting or background for: A vast mountain range backdrops the broad expanse of lake.
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Origin of backdrop

An Americanism dating back to 1910–15; back1 + drop
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for backdrop

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • A low line of hills loomed beyond, painted of silver gray against the backdrop of starry sky and the pallor of moon mists.

    The Tyranny of Weakness

    Charles Neville Buck

  • The green-sloped, snow-capped Bernardinoes form a backdrop for the desert underneath.

    Test Pilot

    David Goodger (goodger@python.org)

  • Eyes the size of Navy dirigibles, with pupils of deep cerulean blue, floating against the backdrop of the gray cumulus.

  • He recognized a backdrop he had seen thousands of times behind the announcer who introduced the news-casts.

    Plague Ship

    Andre Norton

  • She was raised for the most-part in Maine, which forms a backdrop to much of her fiction.

    The Village Watch-Tower

    (AKA Kate Douglas Riggs) Kate Douglas Wiggin

British Dictionary definitions for backdrop


  1. another name for backcloth
  2. the background to any scene or situation
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Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for backdrop


1913, in U.S. theatrical argot, from back (adj.) + drop (n.).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper