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

That’s the context for Wednesday’s decision by House Democrats to authorize subpoenas, on a partisan vote, demanding that Mr. Barr immediately hand over the entire Mueller report and its supporting evidence. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Trolling the Mueller Report," 3 Apr. 2019 For some, enjoyment of a kiss may depend entirely on the context. Gigi Engle, SELF, "We Asked 14 People How to Make Kissing Even Better," 28 Mar. 2019 Here's all the recent news to come out of the official announcement, as well as context for some of the royal staff additions and departures. Katherine J. Igoe, Marie Claire, "Who Is Sara Latham, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's New PR Guru?," 15 Mar. 2019 The communications between these two young people are yet to be fully determined, and there are additional facts and circumstances that give context and perspective to this situation. Eric Olson, The Seattle Times, "Nebraska RB Washington faces charges tied to assault video," 11 Feb. 2019 Richard Bruce TurenChurchill & TurenTuren is a master at crafting in-depth tours of ports like Prague, calling on a network of journalists, expats, and other insiders who offer greater context beyond rote historical facts. Paul Brady, Condé Nast Traveler, "2018 Top Travel Specialists We Trust," 19 Oct. 2018 Republican Party chairwoman Ronna McDaniel described the tweets as troubling within the context to Twitter’s purported efforts to drive healthier conversations. Fox News, "Twitter brings in anti-Trump academics to combat intolerance," 2 Oct. 2018 This experience has taught me a valuable lesson as to the context and the nuance of editorial liberties. Alex Ritman, The Hollywood Reporter, "Henry Cavill Apologizes for "Misunderstanding" Over #MeToo Comments," 12 July 2018 The sociocultural context of an Italian American dietary item. Mike Newall, Philly.com, "How the Hoagie Historian is fighting to save Philly's beleaguered History Museum | Mike Newall," 11 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

9 Apr 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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