noun con·text \ˈkän-ˌtekst\

: the words that are used with a certain word or phrase and that help to explain its meaning

: the situation in which something happens : the group of conditions that exist where and when something happens

Full Definition of CONTEXT

:  the parts of a discourse that surround a word or passage and can throw light on its meaning
:  the interrelated conditions in which something exists or occurs :  environment, setting <the historical context of the war>
con·text·less \-ˌtekst-ləs\ adjective
con·tex·tu·al \kän-ˈteks-chə-wəl, kən-, -chəl, -chü-əl\ adjective
con·tex·tu·al·ly adverb

Examples of CONTEXT

  1. We need to look at the event within the larger context of world history.
  2. The book puts these events in their proper historical and social contexts.
  3. We need to consider these events in context.
  4. … it was Dickens who first used the word detective in a literary context … —John Mullan, How Novels Work, 2006

Origin of CONTEXT

Middle English, weaving together of words, from Latin contextus connection of words, coherence, from contexere to weave together, from com- + texere to weave — more at technical
First Known Use: circa 1568

Other Literature Terms

apophasis, bathos, bildungsroman, bowdlerize, caesura, coda, doggerel, euphemism, poesy, prosody
CONTEXT Defined for Kids


noun con·text \ˈkän-ˌtekst\

Definition of CONTEXT for Kids

:  the words that are used with a certain word in writing or speaking <Without the context, I don't know what he meant by the word “odd.”>
:  the situation in which something happens <The book considers her actions in their historical context.>


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