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

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web The ad sparked controversy after Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, called for it to be taken down because of a clip that was taken out of context. Bart Jansen, USA TODAY, "Trump's ad strategy targeting senior citizens: I recovered from COVID-19 and so can America," 17 Oct. 2020 The coronavirus task force member said a quote used in the campaign ad was taken out of context. David Bauder, Star Tribune, "After independent coronavirus test, NBC sets Trump town hall," 14 Oct. 2020 Fauci is also standing up to the president for wrongly taking his words out of context and using him in a political advertisement. J.d. Crowe | Jdcrowe@al.com, al, "The dissent of Dr. Fauci," 14 Oct. 2020 The coronavirus task force member said a quote used in the campaign ad was taken out of context. David Bauder, Anchorage Daily News, "Trump submits to coronavirus test demanded by NBC before town hall event," 14 Oct. 2020 Often, real video clips are stripped of context and spliced together to tell a different story. Brian X. Chen, New York Times, "How to Deal With a Crisis of Misinformation," 14 Oct. 2020 Fauci said the decision to use his comments without consent, and out of context, is a form of harassment. CBS News, "Watch live: Dr. Anthony Fauci and Norah O'Donnell talk COVID-19 surge and government response," 14 Oct. 2020 The coronavirus task force member said a quote used in the campaign ad was taken out of context. Arkansas Online, "After independent coronavirus test, NBC sets Trump town hall," 14 Oct. 2020 The signatories of the letter also note that the ad takes comments Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, made in March out of context. Clara Hendrickson, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan physicians ask TV stations to pull Trump ad, calling it a danger," 12 Oct. 2020

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about context

Time Traveler for context

Time Traveler

The first known use of context was circa 1568

See more words from the same year

Statistics for context

Last Updated

21 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Context.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/context. Accessed 23 Oct. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for context

context

noun
How to pronounce context (audio)

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.

Keep scrolling for more

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).

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Namesakes Word Quiz

  • a citrus fruit possibly named after a person
  • Which of the following is a fruit named after a Moroccan seaport?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!