American English

Definition of background noun from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



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    family/education, etc.
  1. 1[countable] the details of a person's family, education, experience, etc. a person's family/social/cultural/educational/class background The job would suit someone with a business background. In spite of their very different backgrounds, they immediately became friends.
  2. past
  3. 2[countable, usually singular, uncountable] the circumstances or past events which help explain why something is how it is; information about these the historical background to the war background information/knowledge The elections are taking place against a background of violence. Can you give me more background on the company?
  4. of picture/photo
  5. 3[countable, usually singular] the part of a picture, photograph, or view behind the main objects, people, etc. a photograph with trees in the background compare foreground Thesaurusenvironmentsetting surroundings backgroundThese are all words for the type of place in which someone or something exists or is situated.environment the conditions in a place that affect the behavior and development of someone or something:An unhappy home environment can affect children's behavior. a pleasant working environmentsetting a place or situation of a particular type, in which something happens or exists:The island provided an exotic setting for the concert.surroundings everything that is around or near someone or something:The cabins blend in perfectly with their surroundings.background the things or area behind or around the main objects or people that are in a place or picture:The mountains in the background were capped with snow.Patterns in (a/an) .. environment/setting/surroundings (a/an) new/unfamiliar environment/setting/surroundings somebody/something's immediate environment/surroundings (a) dramatic setting/background
  6. less important position
  7. 4[singular] a position in which people are not paying attention to someone or something or not as much attention as they are paying to someone or something else He prefers to remain in the background and let his assistant talk to the press. A piano tinkled gently in the background. background music There was a lot of background noise (= that you could hear, but were not listening to). compare foreground
  8. color under something
  9. 5[countable, usually singular] a color or design on which something is painted, drawn, etc. The name of the company is written in red on a white background.
  10. Idioms
    in the background (computing)
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    (of a computer program) not being used at the present time and appearing on the screen behind programs that are being used compare in the foreground
    merge into the background
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    (of a person) to behave quietly when you are with a group of people so that they do not notice you
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: background