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context Line breaks: con|text
Pronunciation: /ˈkɒntɛkst/

Definition of context in English:


1The circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood: the proposals need to be considered in the context of new European directives
More example sentences
  • I think if you can understand your contexts then you have power to use this to help yourself.
  • It takes long to explain our context so you can understand the impact of such thing in our culture.
  • This is down to his determination to place current events in a historical context.
1.1The parts of something written or spoken that immediately precede and follow a word or passage and clarify its meaning: skilled readers use context to construct meaning from words as they are read
More example sentences
  • I like visiting the websites and see the words in their original context and formatting.
  • The conceptualizations associated with a word will tend to vary somewhat according to the contexts in which the word is used.
  • It also results in the legitimate public use of words that in other contexts are regarded as slang.


Late Middle English (denoting the construction of a text): from Latin contextus, from con- 'together' + texere 'to weave'.

  • text from Late Middle English:

    A text is created when words are woven together, and the term goes back ultimately to Latin texere ‘to weave’, also the source of texture (Late Middle English) which originally meant ‘a woven fabric’, textile (early 17th century), and context (Late Middle English). Text is a good example of how words develop new meanings in response to changes in the world. It is associated with the most traditional forms of the written word, but technological changes have introduced text messaging. You might think that the verb text (as in ‘I'll text you when I get back’) has only been in the language a short time, but here is Shakespeare using the word 400 years ago in the context of inscribing something on a gravestone in large or capital letters: ‘Yea and text underneath, here dwells Benedick the married man’ (Much Ado about Nothing).


in context

Considered together with the surrounding words or circumstances: the complex meaning of irony is only graspable in context
More example sentences
  • Unusual terms and Anglo-Saxon words are explained in context on the first occurrence.
  • While there has been an increase in waiting list numbers, these figures should be viewed in context.
  • It's useful also to put this in context, given the rhetoric that surrounds it.

out of context

Without the surrounding words or circumstances and so not fully understandable: the article portrayed her as domineering by dropping quotes from her out of context
More example sentences
  • He twists words, quotes people out of context and stretches the truth to suit his purpose.
  • The embarrassment was such that Gilchrist found himself explaining that his words had been taken out of context.
  • She says her words were taken out of context, but soon submits her resignation.

Words that rhyme with context

teletext • subtext

Definition of context in:

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