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

But layoffs remain extremely low in a historical context, especially considering the population covered by unemployment insurance is much larger today than in the late 1960s. Sarah Chaney, WSJ, "U.S. Jobless Claims Fell to 3-Month Low During Holiday Week," 11 July 2019 And now a new book is adding more context — and more logs to the fire. Barbara Vandenburgh, USA TODAY, "Donald Trump racial-slur allegations resurface in new book 'The Method to the Madness'," 8 July 2019 The context: Arsenal were unbeaten in 30 matches going into this clash with Everton, the soon-to-be hero was five days away from turning 17 and the scores were level at one apiece as the clock ticked into the red. SI.com, "8 Wonderkids Who Shot to Football Stardom Overnight," 7 July 2019 What would that look like in a superhero context, where evil is typically defeated through physical violence rather than a helping hand? Christian Holub, EW.com, "5 comics to read this July: Reimagining classic concepts," 3 July 2019 Maybe that’s why the movie, in its greatest-hits-ripped-out-of-context way, wobbles around the kicky splendor of the songs. Owen Gleiberman, chicagotribune.com, "‘Yesterday’ and ‘Rocketman’ are pop-music fantasias that never touch the greatness of their subjects," 29 June 2019 Think of all those execrable late-night television hosts piecing together absurdly out-of-context video clips of Republican politicians or doing man-on-the-street interviews using techniques similar to Cohen’s. Nate Hochman, National Review, "Sacha Baron Cohen’s Tired Elitist Shtick," 25 June 2019 The website that accompanies the films offers context, such as an article on working conditions - considered the most progressive of their time - and more information on life in Wilmerding, Pa., Westinghouse's company town. al.com, "What technology looked like 115 years ago," 23 June 2019 In the Indian subcontinent, issues and events often have a mythological subtext or context, be it in politics, science, or other fields. Harish C Menon, Quartz India, "Sri Lanka’s first ever satellite is named after the ultimate villain of Hindu mythology," 19 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

16 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

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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