[syn: background, play down, downplay]
The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:
background \back"ground`\, n. [Back, a. + ground.]
1. Ground in the rear or behind, or in the distance, as
opposed to the foreground, or the ground in front.
2. (Paint.) The space which is behind and subordinate to a
portrait or group of figures.
Note: The distance in a picture is usually divided into
foreground, middle distance, and background.
3. Anything behind, serving as a foil; as, the statue had a
background of red hangings.
4. 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. --Mrs.
A husband somewhere in the background. --Thackeray.
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.
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; as, against
the background of their expulsion by the Serbs, the desire
of Kosovars for vengeance is understandable though
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.
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.
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.
[1913 Webster +PJC]
WordNet (r) 3.0 (2006):
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,
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,
v 1: understate the importance or quality of; "he played down
his royal ancestry" [syn: background, play down,
downplay] [ant: foreground, highlight, play up,
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,
The Jargon File (version 4.4.7, 29 Dec 2003):
[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.
The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing (30 December 2018):
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).