Definition of background in English:



  • 1The part of a picture, scene, or design that forms a setting for the main figures or objects, or appears furthest from the viewer.

    ‘the house stands against a background of sheltering trees’
    ‘the word is written in white on a red background’
    setting, surround, framework
    in the distance, on the horizon
    backdrop, backcloth, framework
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1A less important or conspicuous position or function.
      ‘after that evening, she remained in the background’
      • ‘With the theme tune in the background of your mind, it is just too much to handle!’
      • ‘There is a whole system at work here, chugging along quietly in the background, unnoticed, and when you stop to think about it, its just awesome!’
      • ‘However, they fail to provide any supplementary advice for the situation where the cook twiddles with a roast while the owner of the kitchen hangs around crossly in the background.’
      • ‘Ideally, you should be quiet, in the background, unnoticed forever.’
      • ‘In the meantime you're hearing the music in the background.’
      • ‘I listen to classical music played softly in the background.’
      • ‘There were other voices in the background: inconsequential static.’
      • ‘‘My style is that I would much rather work the phones in the background than make a lot of statements,’ he said.’
      • ‘One or two big projects that I've had rumbling on in the background, not really my core job but those nice added extras that we'd all like to be able to play with, have finally come to fruition.’
      • ‘Now, I can see myself in that niche: I've always liked being the lieutenant who keeps things running smoothly in the background.’
      • ‘I think I heard something like a squeaky playground merry-go-round in the background, or maybe it was a squeaky gate door.’
      • ‘Over here there's a poker game, then there's this drunk that keeps coming into the room, and in the background there's a couple checking into the hotel.’
      • ‘The piano pieces during the film's second half sound a little thin even though they serve more as background than anything else.’
      • ‘They work in the background and their contribution invariably goes unnoticed.’
      • ‘There were always a couple of them, with a scribe lurking unobtrusively in the background and taking notes in an indecipherable shorthand.’
      • ‘Surely, there had to be a highly developed public relations conspiracy orchestrated in the background.’
      • ‘When he was finish, the three friends sat in contemplative silence, the movie still playing unnoticed in the background.’
      • ‘‘It's not something that comes to the forefront, it's always in the background,’ he says.’
      • ‘When I arrived a few young women were tucking into some very well presented fare, as music played unobtrusively in the background.’
      • ‘But Mitchell preferred to remain in the background, always giving credit to others.’
      behind the scenes, out of the public eye, out of the spotlight, out of the limelight, backstage
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2Computing Used in reference to tasks or processes that do not need input from the user.
      ‘programs can be left running in the background’
      • ‘Playback was smooth, even with tasks running in the background.’
      • ‘A daemon is a program that runs quietly in the background and processes information on the computer automatically.’
      • ‘You have to go into Windows Task Manager and terminate the background process for Outlook prior to starting a backup.’
      • ‘After that, the client software works in the background as a Windows service and watches your selected folders.’
      • ‘Each test was done immediately following a reboot with no other software running in the background.’
    3. 1.3Physics Low-intensity radiation from radioisotopes present in the natural environment.
      • ‘Each photon in the cosmic background, though, retained some clues about the time and place of its last scattering.’
      • ‘Another line of evidence that the universe began is the cosmic radiation background.’
    4. 1.4Unwanted signals, such as noise in the reception or recording of sound.
      • ‘But there was a background noise in the signal that just didn't go away, and they couldn't figure out how to get rid of it.’
      • ‘Otherwise, this is a mostly front-heavy track that utilizes some ambient sounds or background noises.’
      • ‘Using technology to the fullest, the show uses a sound system for background noise.’
      • ‘With the compression, you can hear the background noise in the recording and you hear when that noise stops at the end of the sample.’
      • ‘Because you listen to the tape as a lay person, there's no way that at the end of the tape the background noise could be a conversation.’
      • ‘It's got to the point now where there are so many signs that they blur into a background hiss of white noise.’
      • ‘Other little nuances like ambient sounds and background noises are also used productively and generously.’
      • ‘Although the performances are well done, the variation in recording quality and background noise is audible.’
      • ‘You don't need much here, but it is a documentary, so I was wary of background noise or dirty sound.’
      • ‘The sound quality is poor here… in many instances the background noise overwhelms any dialogue.’
  • 2The circumstances or situation prevailing at a particular time or underlying a particular event.

    ‘the political and economic background’
    [as modifier] ‘background information’
    • ‘This sequence gives general background on the history of the Ring and helps to explain the story up until the point of the game's beginning.’
    • ‘Against such a background of general connivance and betrayal, the few - very few - acts of genuine resistance stand out.’
    • ‘For general background on intelligence, genes, and environment, I found the following useful.’
    • ‘Before proceeding with the latest political scandal, here is some general background.’
    • ‘I argue that business school will give them the general background they need to succeed.’
    • ‘But there is an important background to some of these changes; people who are more affluent tend to move from vegetarian to meat-eating diets.’
    • ‘Do read for general background the web pages of recognized investment experts.’
    • ‘I was told to consult with Emile on general background or historical questions.’
    • ‘The meeting will consist of a general introduction and background to the school from the headmaster and then a question and answer session.’
    • ‘Next there is the work done as a follow-up to classes or as part of the general background reading for the subject.’
    • ‘The book starts with a short introduction that explains the author's interest in this variation and some general background.’
    • ‘But the background information about Yao Ming's upbringing is fascinating.’
    • ‘The questions below include many from her work, as well as some more general cultural background questions.’
    • ‘Students prepared for the interviews by completing general background research.’
    • ‘The content is written for a wide range of learners who have some background knowledge of general biology.’
    • ‘He said the current round of negotiations had been understandably challenging, given the general economic background.’
    • ‘These changes serve as the background for the spread of crack cocaine in Germany as well.’
    • ‘Of course the general background of our history is European culture.’
    • ‘These organizations emerged against the background of a deepening economic and political crisis and an increasing entrenchment of racism.’
    • ‘Due to the number of calls regarding this, I'm including a little background information on the situation.’
    circumstances, context, conditions, situation, environment, milieu, scene, scenario, framework, atmosphere
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1A person's education, experience, and social circumstances.
      ‘she has a background in nursing’
      ‘her voice suggested a tenacious, working-class background’
      • ‘With her arts management background, she also serves as a mentor and adviser for the staff in their artistic careers.’
      • ‘This allows the work to bridge cultural difference, engaging - not distancing - viewers of varying backgrounds.’
      • ‘Two people from two different backgrounds will likely experience a significant number of challenges and communication barriers.’
      • ‘Yet the bitter 26-year feud that has divided them has its roots more in each man's very different personal and social backgrounds.’
      • ‘One of the main aims of this project is not just to widen the cohort of volunteers, but also to make sure that young people of different social backgrounds can come together in a common experience.’
      • ‘Yet he struggled with contempt for his social background and deficient education.’
      • ‘I am a personal chef/trainer in New York City with a background in sport nutrition and healthy cooking.’
      • ‘Her art background had given her an appreciation of Japanese woodblock prints.’
      • ‘We all have different sensitivities, social backgrounds, families and different experiences of discipline and violence in real life.’
      • ‘Common educational and social backgrounds have brought American and many foreign leaders closer.’
      • ‘We're providing very little incentive for students from social and economically disadvantaged backgrounds to come into education.’
      • ‘His motivation was that there should be no barriers to people with different education background and solid banking experience.’
      • ‘Will they have extensive educational backgrounds and technical experience?’
      • ‘Coming from a rural background, the city scenes ignited his imagination.’
      • ‘All faculty members regardless of cultural background can serve as a role model.’
      • ‘You can use your legal background and your position in the community to help inspire a moral rebirth in a society that condones bad things.’
      • ‘She will blame the couple's very different social backgrounds for the differences that eventually led to the collapse of their marriage.’
      • ‘Furthermore, they come from three very different backgrounds and social settings, which lends depth and perspective to their accounts.’
      • ‘They come from different backgrounds, both social and cultural, and are united only by their religious mission.’
      • ‘It's a small but diverse business community but with a wealth of different backgrounds, strengths, experience and viewpoints.’
      social circumstances, family circumstances
      experience, record, history, past, training, education, grounding, knowledge
      View synonyms


  • 1Form a background to.

    ‘windswept land backgrounded by the Rockies’
    • ‘And in the big sparse invisible drops that fall early, with no wind, the new rice dances jade and silver, backgrounded by a slanting late summer afternoon rain by Hokusai.’
    • ‘Here the split images, paralleling, fore- and backgrounding of the original dancers with the current ensemble, acted more as a commentary on the passage of time.’
    • ‘The back cover, with what looks at first sight like a grainy shot of her as a poet-movie star is backgrounded by text.’
  • 2Provide with background.

    ‘the embassy backgrounded American reporters’
    • ‘This long campaign of leaking, backgrounding and sabotage would be legitimised.’
    • ‘I promise, I'll get to the story eventually; there just needs to be backgrounding here for those who aren't in the know and/or haven't worked at an animal hospital or been to a farm.’
    • ‘He introduces the letters with somewhat formal, at times clumsy, historical notes backgrounding the existing social and political conditions both in England and in New Zealand.’
    • ‘It's no surprise that one is the first wife; she was out in the media in December and she's been backgrounding journalists ever since.’
    • ‘I still cringe at the memory of a gag I made on a policy while backgrounding a journalist before an interview that was turned into a very barbed question for my boss.’
    • ‘In fact, in this case he was backgrounding journalists in the full knowledge of his departmental minders and masters.’
    • ‘The first thing I would say is that it appears that a number of journalists have been backgrounded.’
    • ‘It would have been better with more scene-setting, backgrounding and introduction of the personalities.’
    • ‘A while back, Media Watch backgrounded the reason for the inquiry in light of the submissions to the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Amendment Bill.’
    • ‘The magazine has a good article backgrounding a politician's use of internet networking.’