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front end: n.

1. An intermediary computer that does set-up and filtering for another (usually more powerful but less friendly) machine (a back end).

2. What you're talking to when you have a conversation with someone who is making replies without paying attention. “Look at the dancing elephants!” “Uh-huh.” “Do you know what I just said?” “Sorry, you were talking to the front end.

3. Software that provides an interface to another program ‘behind’ it, which may not be as user-friendly. Probably from analogy with hardware front-ends (see sense 1) that interfaced with mainframes.