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 context (audio) \ adjective
contextual \ kän-​ˈteks-​chə-​wəl How to pronounce context (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 People want relevant answers in smart snippets that are context-aware and unified from anywhere across the enterprise. Louis Tetu, Forbes, 13 Sep. 2021 Steve MacKinnon, the church’s artistic director, remembers there was a concerted effort to explain the show’s context to potential theatergoers. Matthew J. Palm, orlandosentinel.com, 13 Sep. 2021 As the national scout said, there is context with each one of the personnel changes on the chart — and surely McCaskey will have his own unique criteria as this season unfolds. Brad Biggs, chicagotribune.com, 13 Sep. 2021 But in many cases our eyes are trained to follow fast activity through the context of what's happening around the object. Joshua Learn | Inside Science, ABC News, 12 Sep. 2021 Then there is also a purely ecological aspect that can be stripped away from the country’s context. Nick Vivarelli, Variety, 11 Sep. 2021 The data warrants some concern, said Doug Myers, Maryland senior scientist at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, but context is critical. Christine Condon, baltimoresun.com, 9 Sep. 2021 The point was to offer clothes that could be mixed and matched to suit the wearer and the context — clothes that could liberate them from the dictates of a single designer or the confines of the suit or the demands to change multiple times a day. New York Times, 9 Sep. 2021 This is the context in which China’s wealthiest have been left to interpret the implications of common prosperity for themselves. Time, 8 Sep. 2021

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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Learn More About context

Time Traveler for context

Time Traveler

The first known use of context was circa 1568

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Dictionary Entries Near context

conteur

context

context-free

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Statistics for context

Last Updated

16 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Context.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/context. Accessed 20 Sep. 2021.

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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.

More from Merriam-Webster on context

Nglish: Translation of context for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of context for Arabic Speakers

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