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 Researchers have used various approaches to try to determine the best benchmarks for the data, such as looking at the arrest rates where the shootings occurred or factoring in the context of encounters that end in a shooting. Lynne Peeples, Scientific American, "What the Data Say about Police Shootings," 5 Sep. 2019 Melissa Dittmer, chief design office for Bedrock, said ODA will blend historic preservation with contemporary aesthetics in the context of the ongoing evolution of Washington Boulevard. John Gallagher, Detroit Free Press, "Bedrock hires architect for Book restoration, hosts public tour Saturday," 4 Sep. 2019 This first-ever biography of William Stimpson situates his work in the context of his time. Smithsonian, "The Hard-Drinking Early Smithsonian Naturalists of the Megatherium Club," 4 Sep. 2019 However, when Avraham and Sarah were chosen, ra’ah was in the context of the promised covenant. Rabbi Avi Weiss, sun-sentinel.com, "Torah portion’s first word has a threefold meaning," 26 Aug. 2019 Director Sandy Shinner’s vision of Bari experiencing a post-seizure euphoria along the lines of a hard drug trip makes perfect sense in the context of the script. Jerald Pierce, chicagotribune.com, "Shattered Globe’s ‘Be Here Now’: Can happiness be real if it’s caused by a brain tumor?," 16 Sep. 2019 Her books, categorized as mystery or crime, are also unabashedly about black experiences, examining the legacy of black history in the context of modern politics and culture. Madhulika Sikka, Washington Post, "Attica Locke left Hollywood to write novels. Now she’s found success in both worlds.," 16 Sep. 2019 But in the context of the show, they are displayed alongside a 1968 audio recording of Bobby Seale, a leader of the Black Panther Party, advocating African-Americans to arm themselves against police brutality. Steven Litt, cleveland.com, "Gun rights explored in provocative ‘Well Armed Militias’ exhibit at Spaces," 15 Sep. 2019 Yang remains an awkward figure in the context of American politics, but the point of his campaign isn’t really about fitting in. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, "Second Tier in Top Form at Democratic Debate," 13 Sep. 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

5 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for context

The first known use of context was circa 1568

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More Definitions for context

context

noun
How to pronounce context (audio)

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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for context

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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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