Meaning of background

back•ground

Pronunciation: (bak'ground"), [key]
— n.
  1. the ground or parts, as of a scene, situated in the rear (opposed to foreground).
  2. a portrait against a purple background.
    1. the part of a painted or carved surface against which represented objects and forms are perceived or depicted:a portrait against a purple background.
    2. the part of an image represented as being at maximum distance from the frontal plane.
  3. one's origin, education, experience, etc., in relation to one's present character, status, etc.
  4. the social, historical, and other antecedents or causes of an event or condition: the background of the war.
  5. 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.
  6. the totality of effects that tend to obscure a phenomenon under investigation and above which the phenomenon must be detected.
  7. (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.
  8. unobtrusive; inconspicuous; out of sight or notice; in or into obscurity: He kept his dishonest dealings in the background.
—adj.
  1. of, pertaining to, or serving as a background: background noise.
—v.t.
  1. to supply a background to: The passenger's idle thoughts were backgrounded by the drone of the plane's engines.
  2. to supply a background of information for: To background themselves, reporters dug through all available files on the case.
Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Copyright © 1997, by Random House, Inc., on Infoplease.
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