1. "The part of a text or statement that surrounds a particular word or passage and determines its meaning".

The above is the first meaning of the word "context" in the definition of context from The Free Dictionary website.

Could somebody explain me what it means? Because I don't understand what it is saying.

And also the above website quotes the following example sentence

"it is unfair to quote out of context."

What does it mean?

  • 2
    Which part is giving you difficulty? You'll get better help if you can say what you understand and what confuses you. Commented Jan 24, 2014 at 19:08
  • 1
    If you read the word private eye and ask what is the meaning of eye then you isolate the word from its context, that is, you isolate the word from other important words that give "eye" its special meaning.
    – rogermue
    Commented Oct 21, 2014 at 14:08

6 Answers 6


Consider the following sentence:

If you prefer small towns, New York City is a bad place to live.

Now imagine quoting only the part that says:

New York City is a bad place to live.

Strictly speaking, this is an accurate quote, because the quoted part is taken directly from the original sentence with no changes. But it's very misleading, because the quote omits important information that you need to understand what the speaker was really saying. That omitted information is context.

Context is the information necessary to correctly interpret a word or phrase that could otherwise be interpreted in a number of different ways. Without context, the speaker appears to be simply saying that New York is a bad place to live for everybody. When the context is supplied, it's clear that the speaker is only saying that New York is a bad choice for people who prefer small towns. That's why it's unfair to quote someone out of context--to repeat something the person says without enough information to prevent readers or listeners from misunderstanding the true meaning of the quote.

Similarly, if you ask a question about English here, you may be asked to provide additional context, such as an example sentence that illustrates the problem you want to solve. Many words and phrases can have different meanings based on context, so it may not be possible to answer the question without more information that narrows down the possible answers.


Context is anything that goes along with the text that could change its meaning. It may mean other text in the same work, or it may mean where you find the text, or who is reading it. It also can be extended to non-text situations such as in:

Can you give me more context? I can't guess what this object is without knowing where it is from.


You have to know the setting to give meaning to the word or event. Like the word "trunk " it could mean the trunk of an elephant,or a branch of a tree or a big container. Unless use in a setting or stage


When you say something is out of context you basically mean it's out of place.

Let's say I'm talking about book and you suddenly suggest a movie, that's obviously out of context --meaning it's not relevant to what I was talking about.


Context refers to the situation within which language functions. It may be physical, environmental, social or institutional. It includes events, culture, or social conventions that can influence language use.


The term 'CONTEXT' means the collection of words surrounding the specific word to determine the appropriate meaning of the statement. Every word yields different meaning in different contexts. Let's take an example to make it more clear; the term "MINE" can be used in different contexts. Like "This house is MINE (possessive)" or "A MINE (refers to explosive material) is concealed under the ground."

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