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

This is more of a survey exhibition putting these works in a new context. Kerry Lengel, azcentral, "How the Phoenix Art Museum acquired Frida Kahlo’s 'Suicide' painting," 13 July 2018 In the context of such extreme cases, Grant’s mandate to officers to become someone else can take on an uncomfortable tenor. Chris Stokel-walker, The Atlantic, "The Linguist Who Helps Police Catch Child Predators," 10 July 2018 Also in the gallery are various 18th- and early-19th-century prints and books, which provide a context for Goto’s photographs. Mark Feeney, BostonGlobe.com, "At Yale: on the threshold and under the volcano," 6 July 2018 This ratio has been proposed in the context of successful marriages, and the researchers imply that, similarly, some degree of conflict is likely healthy in the OR. Orly Nadell Farber, STAT, "‘You, me, parking lot!’: Behind surgical curtain, researchers find hierarchies and gender dynamics driving conflict," 2 July 2018 The waterfront and harbor, scene of the historic Boston Tea Party, provides a rich context for artists exploring issues from migration to trade to rising sea levels. New York Times, "In an East Boston Shipyard, a Watershed Idea for Art," 22 June 2018 Rosenkranz' introduction to the diaries tries to provide context for Einstein's views at a time when such views were widespread. Maria Puente, USA TODAY, "Einstein was a racist? His 1920s travel diaries contain shocking slurs against Chinese people," 13 June 2018 Grindle said the cameras provide important context during an investigation of an officer’s use of force or a citizen complaint. Lisa Maria Garza, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Maitland, Eatonville to join ranks of Orange County law-enforcement agencies using body cameras," 12 June 2018 On Thursday, Livingston, 35, posted a sweet photo of her and Goldblum locking lips on Instagram, adding a long caption that provided some context into the decision making process behind their nuptials. Mike Miller, PEOPLE.com, "Jeff Goldblum's Wife Reveals the Couple Consulted a Therapist Before Deciding to Get Married," 7 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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Phrases Related to context

in context

Statistics for context

Last Updated

10 Sep 2018

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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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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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the setting in which something occurs

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