context

noun
con·​text | \ ˈkän-ˌtekst How to pronounce context (audio) \

Definition of context

1 : the parts of a discourse that surround a word or passage and can throw light on its meaning
2 : the interrelated conditions in which something exists or occurs : environment, setting the historical context of the war

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Other Words from context

contextless \ ˈkän-​ˌtekst-​ləs How to pronounce contextless (audio) \ adjective
contextual \ kän-​ˈteks-​chə-​wəl How to pronounce contextual (audio) , kən-​ , -​chəl , -​chü-​əl \ adjective
contextually adverb

Context, in Context

In its earliest uses (documented in the 15th century), context meant "the weaving together of words in language." This sense, now obsolete, developed logically from the word's source in Latin, contexere "to weave or join together." Context now most commonly refers to the environment or setting in which something (whether words or events) exists. When we say that something is contextualized, we mean that it is placed in an appropriate setting, one in which it may be properly considered.

Examples of context in a Sentence

… it was Dickens who first used the word 'detective' in a literary context — John Mullan, How Novels Work, 2006 Entrepreneurship and civil freedoms depend on a context of civil order, predictability, and individual security. — Susan L. Woodward, Balkan Tragedy, 1995 … the old building, its original acre, inside its high outer wall, was immune to change, out of context and out of time. — Harriet Doerr, The Tiger in the Grass, 1995 We need to look at the event within the larger context of world history. The book puts these events in their proper historical and social contexts. We need to consider these events in context.
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Recent Examples on the Web

The colonizers, charged exclusively with the mission to bring back treasure and convert heathens to Christianity, were incapable of seeing the natives of the New World in any other context. Tom Gjelten, Washington Post, "In Latin America, colonialism’s violent, seemingly inescapable legacy," 23 Aug. 2019 But to put it all in proper context, think back to last year's preseason. Greg Moore, azcentral, "Arizona Cardinals vs. Minnesota Vikings: 5 questions we're asking," 23 Aug. 2019 Monroe, whose stories have been featured at places like The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and Texas Monthly, also weaves in personal experiences and historical context in order to take a macro-view of the true crime genre. Jonny Auping, Longreads, "‘Victims Become This Object of Fascination… This Silent Symbol.’," 23 Aug. 2019 Hip-hop and pop have been mining the fervor and intensity of gospel in recent years, conjuring heaven and hell and devotion in new sonic contexts. John Adamian, courant.com, "Electro-pop duo Phantogram at College Street," 23 Aug. 2019 At West Ridge’s Northtown branch library and apartments, which were developed by the Evergreen Real Estate Group, Johnson and his team from Perkins+Will engage a very different context: the auto row/gas station strip of Western Avenue. Blair Kamin, chicagotribune.com, "Column: Chicago shows how public housing and libraries can coexist and be visually stunning. Now we need more of them.," 22 Aug. 2019 But not every brainstorming session is a greenlight, and ideas are reworked and find new contexts in which to work. Richard Newby, The Hollywood Reporter, "How 'Spider-Man' Divorce Shows Ugly Side of Fandom," 22 Aug. 2019 But podcast and documentary fans should not assume that a true-crime hit in the entertainment context will necessarily convince the justices to review the legal issues of any case. Ephrat Livni, Quartz, "The US Supreme Court is faced with the podcast-popular case of Adnan Syed," 22 Aug. 2019 Even if brands can register the word, limitations on its use would only apply in specific contexts, in association with a logo or brand name, and any alleged infringements would have to be policed by the trademark holder. Ephrat Livni, Quartzy, "Brands are clamoring to trademark common words, like “the”," 22 Aug. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'context.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of context

circa 1568, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for context

Middle English contexte "text, composition," borrowed from Medieval Latin contextus "sequence, connection, setting," going back to Latin, "action of weaving, connection, coherence, ordered scheme, structure," from contexere "to weave together, connect (words), compose, combine" (from con- con- + texere "to weave, construct") + -tus, suffix of action nouns — more at technical entry 1

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Statistics for context

Last Updated

17 Sep 2019

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Time Traveler for context

The first known use of context was circa 1568

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More Definitions for context

context

noun

English Language Learners Definition of context

: 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

context

noun
con·​text | \ ˈkän-ˌtekst How to pronounce context (audio) \

Kids Definition of context

1 : 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.”
2 : the situation in which something happens The book considers her actions in their historical context.

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More from Merriam-Webster on context

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with context

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for context

Spanish Central: Translation of context

Nglish: Translation of context for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of context for Arabic Speakers

Comments on context

What made you want to look up context? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

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