foreground

[fawr-ground, fohr-]
noun
1.
the ground or parts situated, or represented as situated, in the front; the portion of a scene nearest to the viewer (opposed to background ).
2.
a prominent or important position; forefront.

Origin:
1685–95; fore- + ground1

Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Collins
World English Dictionary
foreground (ˈfɔːˌɡraʊnd)
 
n
1.  the part of a scene situated towards the front or nearest to the viewer
2.  the area of space in a perspective picture, depicted as nearest the viewer
3.  a conspicuous or active position
 
vb
4.  (tr) to emphasize (an issue, idea, or word)

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

foreground
1695, from fore + ground. First used in Eng. by Dryden, originally in painting (cf. Du. voorgrond).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang Dictionary

foreground

vt. [Unix; common] To bring a task to the top of one's stack for immediate processing, and hackers often use it in this sense for non-computer tasks. "If your presentation is due next week, I guess I'd better foreground writing up the design document."

Technically, on a time-sharing system, a task executing in foreground is one able to accept input from and return output to the user; oppose background. Nowadays this term is primarily associated with Unix, but it appears first to have been used in this sense on OS/360. Normally, there is only one foreground task per terminal (or terminal window); having multiple processes simultaneously reading the keyboard is a good way to lose.
FOLDOC
Computing Dictionary

foreground definition


(Unix) On a time-sharing system, a task executing in foreground is one able to accept input from and return output to the user in contrast to one running in the background. Nowadays this term is primarily associated with Unix, but it appears first to have been used in this sense on OS/360. Normally, there is only one foreground task per terminal (or terminal window). Having multiple processes simultaneously reading the keyboard is confusing.
[Jargon File]
(1994-10-24)

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010 http://foldoc.org
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Example sentences
In the blue distance life goes on as usual, though the foreground swells with
  scenes of excruciating woe and mild acceptance.
My interest at the moment is in the foreground material.
Four cranes block out the skyline, but the foreground is row upon row of
  boarded-up houses and shuttered storefronts.
The foreground galaxy, seen with a core of bright white, is about ten times
  smaller.
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