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

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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web The user-centricity group is comprised of associates who meet consumers to understand their needs not just in the context of Mars brands but in their lives in general. Rogayeh Tabrizi, Forbes, 4 May 2022 In the context of Trump's record, is there anything surprising in Esper's recollections? Michael D'antonio, CNN, 3 May 2022 Today, throughout Mexico, as well as in much of the rest of the continent, she is primarily known as La Malinche, the Malinche — the article conveying her singular status in the context of Mexican history. Los Angeles Times, 3 May 2022 That matters because, in the context of the American constitutional system, the people made the authoritative decision to separate ordinary from constitutional politics by including the Article V amendment process in the Constitution. J. Joel Alicea, National Review, 3 May 2022 Moreover, the index got a boost in April from a slowdown in supplier deliveries, which is usually a positive sign for manufacturing, but in the context of ongoing supply-chain issues counts a negative. Justin Lahart, WSJ, 2 May 2022 In only one period in our history has a president used the Insurrection Act in the context of elections. Maya Wiley, The New Republic, 2 May 2022 Love often begins at funerals, of course, since those events (like this play) put everything in context of mortality. Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune, 1 May 2022 But in the context of this Biennale’s driving emphasis on magic and the occult, his show reminds us uncomfortably of his infatuation with alchemy, the fantasy of turning base metals into gold or historical debacles into spiritual rebirth. Washington Post, 29 Apr. 2022 See More

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.

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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Time Traveler for context

Time Traveler

The first known use of context was circa 1568

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Dictionary Entries Near context




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Statistics for context

Last Updated

7 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Context.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for context


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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