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 all of that into context, The Mad King ruled Westeros before Robert Baratheon. Kayleigh Roberts, Marie Claire, "How Are Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen Related?," 15 Apr. 2019 Putting this number into context, Stone compares these numbers to another of the 20th century's atrocities: the Rwandan genocide of 1994. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Study Shows Precisely How Nazi Infrastructure Enabled the Worst of the Holocaust," 2 Jan. 2019 To put that into context, Netflix boasted just over 137 million subscribers worldwide in October. Julia Alexander, The Verge, "Netflix says over 45 million accounts watched Bird Box — here’s what that means," 30 Dec. 2018 Because surface melting had historically been an unusual event akin to newsworthy heat waves, glaciologists wanted to put this into context. Scott K. Johnson, Ars Technica, "Greenland’s melting snow makes new hockey stick (graph)," 9 Dec. 2018 Ford said the results could put other problems faced by the whales, such as lack of prey or contamination, into context and could lead to different solutions. Phuong Le, The Seattle Times, "Scientists to sequence genes of struggling southern-resident orca whales," 5 Oct. 2018 The numbers are baffling when put into context: As The Hollywood Reporter notes, one in five American women identify as Latina, yet there's still a huge disparity between how many Latinas are actually portrayed on screen. Julyssa Lopez, Glamour, "Representation for Latina Actors Is at an All-Time High—But It's Still Not Enough," 11 Sep. 2018 To put that into context, when Game of Thrones first debuted, the budget was about $6 million per episode in Season 1, according to Variety. Megan Friedman, Harper's BAZAAR, "The Game of Thrones Prequel: Everything We Know So Far," 26 July 2018 The column is an attempt, as a whole, to place modern phenomenons into historical context, Jones explained to Courier Journal on Tuesday. Darcy Costello, The Courier-Journal, "'Don't be like a Tucker Carlson,' says Ricky Jones after TV exchange," 3 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

7 May 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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