the ground or parts, as of a scene, situated in the rear (opposed to foreground).
the part of a painted or carved surface against which represented objects and forms are perceived or depicted: a portrait against a purple background.
the part of an image represented as being at maximum distance from the frontal plane: majestic mountains in the background.
one's origin, education, experience, etc., in relation to one's present character, status, etc.: She came from a humble background.
the social, historical, and other antecedents or causes of an event or condition: Knowing the background of the war illuminates the latest news reports about it.
the complex of physical, cultural, and psychological factors that serves as the environment of an event or experience; the set of conditions against which an occurrence is perceived:Their decisions need to be examined against the background of nineteenth-century marriage laws.
Physics. the totality of effects that tend to obscure a phenomenon under investigation and above which the phenomenon must be detected.
Telecommunications. (in an electronic device for transmitting or receiving signals) the sum of the effects, as noise or random signals, from which a phenomenon must differentiate itself in character or degree in order to be detected.
the mode of operation of programs, tasks, or processes that start and run without user input while other programs are being used (often used attributively):Background processes—your firewall and your antivirus software—could be what’s slowing your computer down.
on a graphical interface, the position of an active app or window that is visually obscured by the app or window in use:The first time she used a smartphone, she didn’t realize she could continue talking while the phone was in the background.
of, relating to, or serving as a background: background noise.
to supply a background to: The passenger's idle thoughts were backgrounded by the drone of the plane's engines.
to supply a background of information for: To background themselves, reporters dug through all available files on the case.
to give scant attention to; put in the background: Her sacrifices and lifetime of public service were largely backgrounded and unheralded.
Idioms about background
in the background,
Also into the background . unobtrusive; inconspicuous; out of sight or notice; in or into obscurity:He kept his dishonest dealings in the background.
Digital Technology. operating or being used without user input or without being displayed by the graphical interface:How do I keep this app from downloading news stories in the background while I’m working?
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023
How to use background in a sentence
The victims ranged in age from 1 to 93 years old, were of all races and came from various backgrounds.Traffic counts fell during the coronavirus pandemic, but road fatalities still increased | Luz Lazo | February 12, 2021 | Washington Post
Prosecutors allege Caldwell used his military and law enforcement background to plan violence — including possible snipers and weapons stashed on a boat along the Potomac River — weeks ahead of the Capitol insurrection.Former FBI official, a Navy veteran, is ‘key figure’ in Jan. 6 riot, prosecutors allege | Rachel Weiner, Spencer Hsu | February 11, 2021 | Washington Post
He explains that, because of his background in chemistry, he was aware that any chemical compond can be broken down with the right solvent.Tessica Brown Successfully Removes Gorilla Glue Via Surgery | Jasmine Grant | February 11, 2021 | Essence.com
The algorithm disregards irrelevant data, like types of backgrounds and model’s skin tones.Tech-savvy fashion forecasters already know what you’ll be wearing in two years | Rachael Zisk | February 10, 2021 | Popular-Science
It’s not often that people are able to snap a picture of an urban cougar, but no mountain lion photo may be more iconic than the 2013 image of a male cougar, prowling at night with the Hollywood sign in the background.
“We saw his background and he was a Bronx guy and we started breaking the case,” Boyce says.
The following page details a tribute gag the Simpsons team inserted into the background of a scene.Here’s the Lost Judd Apatow ‘Simpsons’ Episode, Penned by Judd Apatow | Asawin Suebsaeng | January 6, 2015 | THE DAILY BEAST
But there's a ton of value for me in my background and my history, and losing it would be a shame.
Desert Golfing is the gaming equivalent of putting TV on in the background.Lost For Thousands of Strokes: 'Desert Golfing' Is 'Angry Birds' as Modern Art | Alec Kubas-Meyer | January 2, 2015 | THE DAILY BEAST
But, but … there was a token black girl in the background, Target cried in its defense!One Vogue Cover Doesn’t Solve Fashion’s Big Race Problem | Danielle Belton | January 2, 2015 | THE DAILY BEAST
There is always in the background of my mind dread lest help should reach the enemy before we have done with Sedd-el-Bahr.Gallipoli Diary, Volume I | Ian Hamilton
But she was young enough and pretty enough to pay little heed to pose or background.The Red Year | Louis Tracy
Against the blue background of the sky, green hill-tops trace an undulant line.Bastien Lepage | Fr. Crastre
There was an exclamation of horror in the background, and Monsieur de Gaubert thrust himself forward.St. Martin's Summer | Rafael Sabatini
The banks of the river are flat, and fringed with underwood and young trees; the background is formed by ranges of hills.A Woman's Journey Round the World | Ida Pfeiffer
British Dictionary definitions for background
the part of a scene or view furthest from the viewer
an inconspicuous or unobtrusive position (esp in the phrase in the background)
(as modifier): a background influence
the plane or ground in a picture upon which all other planes or forms appear superimposed
a person's social class, education, training, or experience
the social, historical, or technical circumstances that lead up to or help to explain something: the background to the French Revolution
(as modifier): background information
a low level of sound, lighting, etc, whose purpose is to be an unobtrusive or appropriate accompaniment to something else, such as a social activity, conversation, or the action of a film
(as modifier): background music
Also called: background radiation physics low-intensity radiation as, for example, from small amounts of radioisotopes in soil, air, building materials, etc
unwanted effects, such as noise, occurring in a measuring instrument, electronic device, etc
(as modifier): background interference
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