1. Something used as a background, especially:
a. A painted cloth hung at the back of a stage set.
b. A taut cloth suspended in a frame and used as a background against which to take a photograph.
c. An image, often painted or digitally created, used in cinematography as the background of a scene.
2. The setting, as of a historical event; the background.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.