context

noun
con·​text | \ˈkän-ˌtekst \

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 \ adjective
contextual \kän-​ˈteks-​chə-​wəl, 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

Note that Christine Blasey Ford *still,* in this context, felt the need to make a lighthearted joke to ease the palpable discomfort of the men around her. Jenny Hollander, Marie Claire, "Listening to Dr. Ford's Testimony, People Are Heartbroken," 27 Sep. 2018 Placed within this context, the videos of Eric Garner, Philando Castile, Laquan McDonald, Rodney King, and others show the continuity of this violence, an anti-narrative of freedom. Alexis C. Madrigal, The Atlantic, "How Do You Measure a Country?," 1 July 2018 That experiential component is easier to shape in the context of exhibitions, via light and scent and interiors. Laura Regensdorf, Vogue, "Only 500 of This Artist’s Space Kit Candle Are Up for Grabs—And They’re Totally Worth the Hype," 30 Nov. 2018 The deforestation of the Pando, placed in the context of deforestation worldwide, would be a true loss for the environment for the western American continent. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Humans And Deer Are Killing Earth's Largest Organism Together," 18 Oct. 2018 In the context of American politics and design, the nomenclature for our current era is yet to be coined. Taylor Mead, House Beautiful, "Remembering Decorating Legend Mario Buatta," 17 Oct. 2018 What is the meaning of my little slice of time in the context of the whole history of the cosmos? Hans Aschim, Harper's BAZAAR, "Three Women in Science Who Broke the Glass Ceiling," 5 Oct. 2018 Instead Robocop can be far more effective if looked at in the context of our current socio-political climate, just as Verhoeven did for his time. Richard Newby, The Hollywood Reporter, "Why 'Robocop' and Neill Blomkamp Need Each Other," 11 July 2018 It’s hard to talk about Marie Antoinette without putting it in the context of the time. refinery29.com, "Why Marie Antoinette Is Really Mean Girls, Versailles Edition," 10 July 2018

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, weaving together of words, from Latin contextus connection of words, coherence, from contexere to weave together, from com- + texere to weave — more at technical

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Statistics for context

Last Updated

17 Dec 2018

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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 \

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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