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

Within that context, people remember the upset, powered by a career day from quarterback Stephen Garcia, as monumental. Christopher Smith, al, "2019 Alabama twice as dominant as when it lost to South Carolina," 9 Sep. 2019 She-Hulk has also dealt with a fair bit of controversy surrounding sexism, both in the form of public commentary and within the context of the Marvel Universe. Richard Newby, The Hollywood Reporter, "How 'She-Hulk' Solves a Longtime Marvel Problem," 30 Aug. 2019 But while these queries made sense within the context of each episode, hearing them all strung together in one long compilation is an entirely different experience. Megan Mccluskey, Time, "Say Goodbye to the Season With the Best Memes of Summer From Hot Girl Summer to #ChickenWars," 30 Aug. 2019 Even so, within the context of this year of explosive offense, the performance by Devers stands out as historically significant. Alex Speier, BostonGlobe.com, "Just how good could Rafael Devers be?," 14 Aug. 2019 His was a guide to self-actualization within the context of community. Soraya Roberts, Longreads, "Won’t You Be My Neighbor: An Anti-Hate Pop Culture Syllabus," 9 Aug. 2019 Inslee’s team released many detailed policy plans on his website, though they were framed primarily within the context of climate action. Jason Lalljee And, USA TODAY, "Washington Gov. Jay Inslee drops bid for 2020 Democratic presidential nomination," 6 Aug. 2019 To place these memorials within the broader context of the conflict, the markers will discuss slavery, racial persecution in the aftermath of the Civil War, segregation and the long-standing impacts of disenfranchisement. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "New Markers in Atlanta Aim to Put Confederate Monuments in Context," 31 July 2019 The context was the government’s widening embrace of the doctrines of neoliberalism. Christopher Ketcham, Harper's magazine, "A Play with No End," 22 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

8 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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