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English Dictionary: background by the DICT Development Group
4 results for background
From WordNet (r) 3.0 (2006) [wn]:
background
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"
    Synonym(s): background, ground
  3. information that is essential to understanding a situation or problem; "the embassy filled him in on the background of the incident"
    Synonym(s): 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"
    Synonym(s): 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"
    Synonym(s): setting, background, scope
  7. (computer science) the area of the screen in graphical user interfaces against which icons and windows appear
    Synonym(s): background, desktop, screen background
  8. scenery hung at back of stage
    Synonym(s): backdrop, background, backcloth
v
  1. understate the importance or quality of; "he played down his royal ancestry"
    Synonym(s): background, play down, downplay
    Antonym(s): foreground, highlight, play up, spotlight
From Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913) [web1913]:
   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.
               --Fairholt.
  
      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.
                                                                              Alexander.
  
                     A husband somewhere in the background. --Thackeray.

From Jargon File (4.2.0, 31 JAN 2000) [jargon]:
   background n.,adj.,vt.   [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.
  
  

From The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing (15Feb98) [foldoc]:
   background
  
      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).
  
      (1996-05-28)
  
  
No guarantee of accuracy or completeness!
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