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noun, often attributive back·ground \ˈbak-ˌ(g)rau̇nd\

Simple Definition of background

  • : the part of a scene or picture that is farthest from the viewer : the part of a scene that is behind a main figure or object in a painting, photograph, etc.

  • : a surface or color that is behind or around something (such as a printed design)

  • : a position that attracts little attention

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of background

  1. 1 a :  the scenery or ground behind something b :  the part of a painting representing what lies behind objects in the foreground

  2. 2 :  an inconspicuous position

  3. 3 a :  the conditions that form the setting within which something is experienced b (1) :  the circumstances or events antecedent to a phenomenon or development (2) :  information essential to understanding of a problem or situation c :  the total of a person's experience, knowledge, and education

  4. 4 a :  intrusive sound or radiation that interferes with received or recorded electronic signals b :  a more or less steady level of noise above which the effect (as radioactivity) being measured by an apparatus (as a Geiger counter) is detected; especially :  a somewhat steady level of radiation in the natural environment (as from cosmic rays)

  5. 5 :  a level of computer processing at which the processor uses time not required for a primary task to work on an additional task — compare foreground

on background

  1. :  with the understanding that information offered for publication will not be attributed to a specific source <an official speaking on background>

Examples of background in a sentence

  1. Objects in the foreground are drawn larger than those in the background.

  2. a photograph of a house with mountains in the background

  3. red letters printed on a white background

  4. An ethnic conflict that was simmering away in the background finally erupted into civil war.

  5. Let me provide you with some background on this problem.


First Known Use of background


Synonym Discussion of background

background, setting, environment, milieu, mise-en-scène mean the place, time, and circumstances in which something occurs. background often refers to the circumstances or events that precede a phenomenon or development <the shocking decision was part of the background of the riots>. setting suggests looking at real-life situations in literary or dramatic terms <a militant reformer who was born into an unlikely social setting>. environment applies to all the external factors that have a formative influence on one's physical, mental, or moral development <the kind of environment that produces juvenile delinquents>. milieu applies especially to the physical and social surroundings of a person or group of persons <an intellectual milieu conducive to artistic experimentation>. mise-en-scène strongly suggests the use of properties to achieve a particular atmosphere or theatrical effect <a gothic thriller with a carefully crafted mise-en-scène>.



verb back·ground

Definition of background

  1. transitive verb
  2. :  to provide with background


First Known Use of background


BACKGROUND Defined for Kids


noun back·ground \ˈbak-ˌgrau̇nd\

Definition of background for Students

  1. 1 :  the scenery or ground that is behind a main figure or object <The sign had red letters printed on a white background.>

  2. 2 :  a position that attracts little attention <He tried to keep in the background.>

  3. 3 :  the total of a person's experience, knowledge, and education <Before hiring me, the company wanted to check my background.>

Seen and Heard

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a very small amount

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