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5 definitions found
 for background
From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48 :

  background \back"ground`\, n. [Back, a. + ground.]
     [1913 Webster]
     1. Ground in the rear or behind, or in the distance, as
        opposed to the foreground, or the ground in front.
        [1913 Webster]
  
     2. (Paint.) The space which is behind and subordinate to a
        portrait or group of figures.
        [1913 Webster]
  
     Note: The distance in a picture is usually divided into
           foreground, middle distance, and background.
           --Fairholt.
           [1913 Webster]
  
     3. Anything behind, serving as a foil; as, the statue had a
        background of red hangings.
        [1913 Webster]
  
     4. A place in obscurity or retirement, or out of sight.
        [1913 Webster]
  
              I fancy there was a background of grinding and
              waiting before Miss Torry could produce this highly
              finished . . . performance.           --Mrs.
                                                    Alexander.
        [1913 Webster]
  
              A husband somewhere in the background. --Thackeray.
        [1913 Webster]
  
     5. 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; as, within
        the background of the massive budget deficits of the
        1980's, new spending programs had little chance of passage
        by the congress.
        [PJC]
  
     6. 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]; as, against
        the background of their expulsion by the Serbs, the desire
        of Kosovars for vengeance is understandable though
        regrettable.
        [PJC]
  
     7. (Science) 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. Specifically: (Physics)
        Electronic noise present in a system using electronic
        measuring instrument or in a telecommunications system,
        which may hide and which must be differentiated from the
        desired signal; also called background noise or noise.
        [PJC]
  
     8. (Journalism) 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.
        [PJC]
  
     To place in the background, to make of little consequence.
  
     To keep in the background, to remain unobtrusive,
        inconspicuous or out of sight; -- of people.
  
     deep background, (Journalism) the status of an interview
        which must not be quoted in a publication, even without
        attribution. Compare background[8].
        [1913 Webster +PJC]

From WordNet (r) 3.0 (2006) :

  background
      n 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" [syn: background, ground]
      3: information that is essential to understanding a situation or
         problem; "the embassy filled him in on the background of the
         incident" [syn: background, 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"
         [syn: background, 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;
         "you can't do that in a university setting" [syn: setting,
         background, scope]
      7: (computer science) the area of the screen in graphical user
         interfaces against which icons and windows appear [syn:
         background, desktop, screen background]
      8: scenery hung at back of stage [syn: backdrop, background,
         backcloth]
      v 1: understate the importance or quality of; "he played down
           his royal ancestry" [syn: background, play down,
           downplay] [ant: foreground, highlight, play up,
           spotlight]

From Moby Thesaurus II by Grady Ward, 1.0 :

  155 Moby Thesaurus words for "background":
     action, agora, amphitheater, anagnorisis, angle, architectonics,
     architecture, arena, argument, athletic field, atmosphere,
     auditorium, back, backdrop, background detail, backstage,
     bear garden, behind the scenes, blaseness, bowl, boxing ring,
     breeding, bull ring, campus, canvas, catastrophe, characterization,
     circus, cockpit, coliseum, color, colosseum, complication,
     continuity, contrivance, course, credentials, curriculum vitae,
     decorative composition, decorative style, denouement, design,
     detail, development, device, distance, episode, experience, fable,
     falling action, family, field, figure, floor, foil,
     foreground detail, form, forum, gimmick, ground, gym, gymnasium,
     hall, hinterland, hippodrome, history, horizon, in the background,
     incident, inconspicuous, line, lists, local color, locale,
     marketplace, mat, milieu, mise-en-scene, mood, motif, movement,
     mythos, national style, obscurity, offing, open forum,
     ornamental motif, palaestra, parade ground, past experience,
     pattern, period style, peripeteia, pit, place, plan, platform,
     plot, practical knowledge, practice, precinct, prize ring,
     public square, purlieu, range, rear, recognition, remote distance,
     repeated figure, ring, rising action, sagacity, scene,
     scene of action, scenery, scheme, seasoning, secondary plot,
     setting, site, slant, sophistication, sphere, squared circle,
     stadium, stage, stage set, stage setting, story, structure, style,
     subject, subplot, switch, tempering, terrain, the distance,
     theater, thematic development, theme, tilting ground, tiltyard,
     tone, topic, touch, training, twist, unnoticed, unobtrusive,
     unseen, upbringing, vanishing point, walk, worldly wisdom,
     wrestling ring
  
  

From The Jargon File (version 4.4.7, 29 Dec 2003) :

  background
   n.,adj.,vt.
  
      [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.
  

From The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing (18 March 2015) :

  background
  
     1.  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.  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).
  
     (1996-05-28)
  

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