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 quote was in the context of updating Air Force One, which currently sports a color scheme chosen by Jackie while her husband was president. Monica Hesse, Washington Post, "Melania Trump is no Jackie O, but, yikes, who would want to be?," 15 June 2019 This is doubly true in the context of recent NBA history, which has taken on the feel of a space race. Robert O'connell, The Atlantic, "The Toronto Raptors Were Ready," 14 June 2019 That’s powerful show-running, and the result is a must-see four-part series that reexamines this case in the context of Black Lives Matter, the Trump administration, and the unsteadiness over the future of our country. Cady Drell, Marie Claire, "The Best Netflix Original Shows of 2019 — So Far," 13 June 2019 The Lariat is posher, although in the context of a Ranger that mainly means shiny wheels on the outside and old-school Ford dinosaur leather inside. Ezra Dyer, Popular Mechanics, "I'm Not Sure We Need a Ford Ranger Raptor," 13 June 2019 Professional historians occupy a less influential role in society than ever, as the academic jobs crisis whittles their numbers and their authority drops in the context of the internet. Josephine Livingstone, The New Republic, "Who Owns the Crusades?," 11 June 2019 In the context of all that has recently happened, this latest scandal might seem easy to ignore in comparative magnitude. Erik Sherman, Fortune, "Remember Options Backdating? Nissan Gets Caught Using a Very Old CEO Pay Trick," 11 June 2019 The president has been particularly critical of the Fed’s policies in the context of his trade war. Jeanna Smialek, BostonGlobe.com, "Trump renews attacks on Fed, putting central bank in a bind," 10 June 2019 The president has been particularly critical of the Fed’s policies in the context of his trade war. Jeanna Smialek, New York Times, "Trump Renews Attacks on Fed, Putting Central Bank in a Bind," 10 June 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, 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

18 Jun 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

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