[ kon-tekst ]
/ ˈkɒn tɛkst /
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See synonyms for: context / contexts on Thesaurus.com

the parts of a written or spoken statement that precede or follow a specific word or passage, usually influencing its meaning or effect: You have misinterpreted my remark because you took it out of context.
the set of circumstances or facts that surround a particular event, situation, etc.
Mycology. the fleshy fibrous body of the pileus in mushrooms.
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True or false? British English and American English are only different when it comes to slang words.

Origin of context

1375–1425; late Middle English <Latin contextus a joining together, scheme, structure, equivalent to contex(ere) to join by weaving (con-con- + texere to plait, weave) + -tus suffix of v. action; cf. text


con·text·less, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What is context?

Context is a noun that means the parts of a statement that immediately precede or follow a specific section of the statement and help explain that section. 

The context of a specific text clarifies the meaning of that text, as in When the politician was asked to apologize for lying, he claimed that he had been quoted out of context and that he wasn’t actually lying. 

Context is also the conditions related to an event or situation that helps a person understand the event or situation. Conditions can include surroundings (where something took place), circumstances (what else was happening at the time), and background (such as events that happened before). For example, the context of a historical event, such as what else was happening at the time and how people understood their environment, can help us better understand the event itself.

One common expression that uses word context is context clues. Context clues are hints within a piece of writing that help us understand something unfamiliar, such as a word. For example, if you came across the word ethereal in a text, context clues could help you figure out that it means “delicate” and “beautiful.” 

Another common expression that includes the word context is out of context. This expression is used to explain that the reason people understood a statement or text incorrectly was because the statement was removed from its surrounding text, which distorted its meaning. 

Example: Understanding the historical and scientific contexts of the Romantic period are essential to understanding Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein.”

Where does context come from?

The first records of the term context come from around the late 1300s to early 1400s. It comes from the Latin word contextus, meaning “a joining together, scheme, or structure.” 

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms of context?

What are some synonyms for context?

What are some words that share a root or word element with context

What are some words that often get used in discussing context?

How is context used in real life?

The word context is a fairly common word used to refer to conditions or situations that give meaning to an event or behavior. It’s also commonly used to refer to the words surrounding a specific word or words in a text that give the text its meaning.


Try using context!

True or False?

The context of a situation is what results from the situation.

How to use context in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for context

/ (ˈkɒntɛkst) /

the parts of a piece of writing, speech, etc, that precede and follow a word or passage and contribute to its full meaningit is unfair to quote out of context
the conditions and circumstances that are relevant to an event, fact, etc

Word Origin for context

C15: from Latin contextus a putting together, from contexere to interweave, from com- together + texere to weave, braid
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012