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

To put those figures into context, that is more than double the salary Juventus boss Maurizio Sarri earns, which sits as €5.5m-per-year. SI.com, "Inter Manager Antonio Conte Revealed as Serie A's Highest Paid Manager Ever," 11 Sep. 2019 Be informed Put your travel plans into a larger context and understand what exactly is going on at SFO right now. Patrick May, The Mercury News, "What you need to know about delays at SFO — and how to possibly avoid them," 10 Sep. 2019 Artificial intelligence in this context has implications that both sides will need to continually evaluate as the technology and the legislation evolve. David Singer, The Hollywood Reporter, "How Hollywood Can (and Can’t) Fight Back Against Deepfake Videos (Guest Column)," 7 Sep. 2019 In this context, FogCam’s 25 years of operation is far more impressive. Jon Porter, The Verge, "The world’s oldest webcam is shutting down after a quarter of a century," 20 Aug. 2019 The Takeaway: Perhaps a recap of the last few years of British politics would be helpful to put all of this into some context. Graeme Mcmillan, WIRED, "While You Were Offline: Trump Stood in Front of a Fake Presidential Seal," 28 July 2019 Social media shares Schroeder said without context, some of the posts could convey different meanings to people. Dallas News, "Here’s why Dallas leaders are troubled by police officers’ questionable and bigoted Facebook posts," 20 July 2019 To put into context, there are more rhinos, Western lowland gorillas, and African elephants in the wild than there are lions. National Geographic, "Where lions are king: How to track the big cats in Zambia," 18 July 2019 Court’s record, established from 1960 to 1973, should be put into context. Christopher Clarey, New York Times, "Which Version of Serena Williams Is Headed to the Wimbledon Final?," 11 July 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

22 Oct 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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