• Giant Raft. In the background is a completed raft; in the foreground a cradle in which a raft is being built
    Giant Raft. In the background is a completed raft; in the foreground a cradle in which a raft is being built
  • WordNet 3.6
    • v background understate the importance or quality of "he played down his royal ancestry"
    • n background scenery hung at back of stage
    • n background (computer science) the area of the screen in graphical user interfaces against which icons and windows appear
    • n background a person's social heritage: previous experience or training "he is a lawyer with a sports background"
    • n background information that is essential to understanding a situation or problem "the embassy filled him in on the background of the incident"
    • n background the part of a scene (or picture) that lies behind objects in the foreground "he posed her against a background of rolling hills"
    • n background relatively unimportant or inconspicuous accompanying situation "when the rain came he could hear the sound of thunder in the background"
    • n background 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"
    • n background the state of the environment in which a situation exists "you can't do that in a university setting"
    • ***

Additional illustrations & photos:

A cluster of small houses with a church in the background A cluster of small houses with a church in the background
Wall or fireplace tiles found at Jamestown which were made in Holland. The blue designs and pictures were painted on a white background Wall or fireplace tiles found at Jamestown which were made in Holland. The blue designs and pictures were painted on...
Blacktail deer snapped with a background of snow Blacktail deer snapped with a background of snow
The porcupine stood in the shade but the background was light The porcupine stood in the shade but the background was light
Iceberg with Miami in the Background Iceberg with Miami in the Background
A woman prays; ghostly figures stand in the background A woman prays; ghostly figures stand in the background
Part of the gardens with the house in the background Part of the gardens with the house in the background

Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
  • Interesting fact: Studies have shown that by putting on slow background music it can make a person eat food at a slower rate
    • background A place in obscurity or retirement, or out of sight. "I fancy there was a background of grinding and waiting before Miss Torry could produce this highly finished . . . performance.""A husband somewhere in the background ."
    • background (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.
    • background Anything behind, serving as a foil; as, the statue had a background of red hangings.
    • background Ground in the rear or behind, or in the distance, as opposed to the foreground, or the ground in front.
    • background 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.
    • background 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.
    • background (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.
    • background (Paint) The space which is behind and subordinate to a portrait or group of figures.
    • ***
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
  • Interesting fact: Chameleons change their color by dispersing the concentration of pigment in their skin. This is controlled by the autonomic nervous system. Color changes are determined by external factors such as light and temperature as well as emotions. They do not change color to match their background.
    • n background The ground at the back or behind, as opposed to the front; situation in the rear of those objects, considerations, etc., which engage the attention; subordinate or secondary position in contradistinction to principal or important position; place out of sight: used both literally (of physical objects) and figuratively: as, there were mountains in the background; the true reasons for this action were kept in the background.
    • n background Specifically The part of a picture represented as furthest from the spectator's eye: opposed to foreground. In pictures of which the foreground possesses the chief interest, the background is so designed as to enhance the effect of objects in the foreground, to which it is kept subordinate in color, etc., often serving no other purpose than that of a mere screen or setting behind the objects in which the interest is concentrated: as, a portrait with a landscape background; a group of figures with buildings in the background. In landscapes, when no such evident opposition is intended, or when the chief interest lies in the background, the term distance is properly used to denote the more distant planes in the picture, as distinguished from the foreground and the middle distance.
    • n background In photography, the plain or decorated screens, properties, etc., placed behind the subject in taking portraits, especially in regular gallery-work, in order to form an appropriate setting in the finished picture.
    • ***
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
  • Interesting fact: In the original Wizard of Oz, during the scene in the forest, you can see a body hanging from a tree in the background. This is real. He was an actor that hung himself after he didnt get the part of the Tinman. They cut it out of the later versions, but if you have a movie from before the golden age of film editing, you'll see him.
    • Background ground at the back: a place of obscurity: the space behind the principal figures of a picture
    • ***


  • Milan Kundera
    “Without the meditative background that is criticism, works become isolated gestures, historical accidents, soon forgotten.”
  • George Santayana
    “There is no cure for birth and death save to enjoy the interval. The dark background which death supplies brings out the tender colors of life in all their purity.”
  • John Locke
    “The discipline of desire is the background of character.”
  • Barbara Walters
    Barbara Walters
    “I can get a better grasp of what is going on in the world from one good Washington dinner party than from all the background information NBC piles on my desk.”
  • Alfred North Whitehead
    “Every philosophy is tinged with the coloring of some secret imaginative background, which never emerges explicitly into its train of reasoning.”


Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
Back, a. + ground,
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
A.S. bæc, Sw. bak, Dan. bag.


In literature:

The sunshine, the flowery meadow, the motionless woods all about in the still afternoon: no background could be more peaceful.
"Angelot" by Eleanor Price
The groups are set about in the ample space, with the wonderful cathedral as a background.
"The Venetian School of Painting" by Evelyn March Phillipps
Since such was the background of their thought it was inevitable that definitely heretical doctrines should result.
"Monophysitism Past and Present" by A. A. Luce
Always commence the portrait by putting in the background.
"Crayon Portraiture" by Jerome A. Barhydt
Here a background does not exist.
"Needlework As Art" by Marian Alford
On the right wing is a bald-headed man in a rich robe, and in the background a castle.
"The Shores of the Adriatic" by F. Hamilton Jackson
Now, here I am, helping to attempt to establish a tyranny over half the continent of my racial background.
"Border, Breed Nor Birth" by Dallas McCord Reynolds
She looked round to Bice in the background with an imperative question.
"Sir Tom" by Mrs. Oliphant
In the history of figure painting it is interesting to study the evolution of the element of background.
"Materials and Methods of Fiction" by Clayton Hamilton
We could see a number of the Americans in the background.
"Gold" by Stewart White

In poetry:

And if we ever acquire
The perfect life we crave,
A subtle warning tells us
Its background is the grave.
"The Postern Gate" by John Lawson Stoddard
For, looking in his eyes, I saw dim flame
Burning by fits within;
And on his brow there was a mark of shame—
Background to lust and sin.
"The Two Angels" by Alexander Anderson
The little vale of Aberfoyle and its beautiful river
Is a sight, once seen, forget it you'll never;
And romantic ranges of rock on either side
Form a magnificent background far and wide.
"Beautiful Aberfoyle" by William Topaz McGonagall
The Palace Gardens. Interrupted sounds of music and revelry
come though the open windows of the ball-room, seen in the
background. RIBERA, pacing the stage, occasionally pausing
to look in upon the dancers.
"The Spagnoletto. Act II" by Emma Lazarus
And there he stands in memory to this day,
Erect, self-poised, a rugged face, half seen
Against the background of unnatural dark,
A witness to the ages as they pass,
That simple duty hath no place for fear.
"Abraham Davenport" by John Greenleaf Whittier
"Now, haste thee cop!" I called aloud,
And seized him by the arm.
"There is a wretch without my house
Who bodes my treasure harm" ....
Toward the sky he waved a hand
And answered, "Ain't that background grand?"
"Culture and Cops" by C J Dennis

In news:

For those of you without a formal background in psychology, the illusion of explanatory depth relates to the human tendency to believe that we can know the full inner working of an event or phenomenon we encounter on a regular.
A close up view using a digital mircoscope of a young bedbug - about a millimeter in size and barely visible with the naked eye on a light background.
Let me provide a little background.
Following a background report, two experts discuss the late king's legacy and what lies ahead for for Saudi Arabia.
Tell us about your musical background.
This composite color image shows the galaxy cluster MACS1149+2223, which creates a gravitational lens to magnify an extremely distant galaxy in the background (inset).
While shopping at an import store in Montclair, DJ Moda (né Eric Reynolds) stops to listen to the Eastern electronica playing in the background.
You can also change the color of the background.
Critics say background checks at US Education Department are too intrusive.
While there were surely grim moments in his background, much of it, he says, he has blocked out.
A brief look at the background of the Fen Phen fiasco and its impact.
But a feng-shui consultant has gone over both the place and the background of its owners, Ms Lo and Jennifer Scism.
Chris Flood operates the horizontal drill from inside a construction trailer as Brad Diehl, background, hoists a section of pipe, which will aid the addition of more fiber optic cable to the Jefferson City area.
The fingerprints could be sent to the FBI and other agencies to verify identity and to get a criminal background.
Fingerprint clearance is a crucial step in teacher background and criminal history checks.

In science:

From the various background considerations discussed in the previous sections, it can be seen that while the background control is non-trivial like all other low-energy neutrino experiments, there are more experimental handles to suppress and identify them with the crystal scintillator approach.
A CsI(Tl) Scintillating Crystal Detector for the Studies of Low Energy Neutrino Interactions
After performing the consistent background suppression, a residual Background-to-Signal ratio of less than 10 before Reactor ON−OFF subtraction is realistic.
A CsI(Tl) Scintillating Crystal Detector for the Studies of Low Energy Neutrino Interactions
In general, the action and Hamiltonian are formally infinite, so one must introduce a background spacetime and subtract off the background action (and Hamiltonian) to obtain a finite answer.
Generalized entropy and Noether charge
Since we want the Hamiltonian to vanish in the background, we choose C = − ¯Q where ¯Q denotes Q evaluated in the background.
Generalized entropy and Noether charge
Since this paper involves branes in Rn in constant background fields, we would like to make a few comments about such backgrounds.
OM Theory in Diverse Dimensions