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

Twitter has many pitfalls, one of which is the removal of context. Megan Farokhmanesh, The Verge, "The year of deleted tweets," 27 Dec. 2018 And that's the rub: That knee-jerk conjecture takes place out of context. Jill Kiedaisch, Popular Mechanics, "Study Shows Parachutes Are Totally Worthless," 17 Dec. 2018 So while Bublé’s quote may have reflected a real hesitance to keep up with being in the public eye, his comments about retiring may have been taken out of context. Megan Friedman, Good Housekeeping, "Michael Bublé Responds to Retirement Rumors After Fans Erupt on Twitter," 15 Oct. 2018 It was intended to be entirely complimentary but unfortunately, my words were twisted & taken out of context. Isabel Greenberg, Harper's BAZAAR, "Naomi Campbell Threw Shade at Kendall Jenner with Just Two Words," 27 Sep. 2018 In other words, the NCAA will insist there was no out-of-context remark about these players because there was no remark about these players. Michael Mccann, SI.com, "Should the NCAA Be Worried About the Lawsuit It's Facing From Former Louisville Players?," 12 July 2018 Cagle has called his talk with former candidate for governor Clay Tippins a private conversation that was never meant to become public, and says it's being taken out of context. NBC News, "Secret tape recordings rock Georgia governor race," 9 July 2018 But local control also persists because of the importance of context. Jack Schneider, The Atlantic, "The Problem With Generalizing About ‘America’s Schools’," 5 July 2018 Loesch, however, says the video, which was tweeted by writer and civil rights activist Shaun King, was taken out of context. Chris Morris, Fortune, "After Capital Gazette Shooting, Video Surfaces of NRA Spokesperson Seemingly Saying Journalists Need to be 'Curbed Stomped'," 29 June 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

15 Jan 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 \

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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