The general meaning of "out of context" I know is with the word 'take' i.e. when you take something out of context then it means that it has a chance of being misinterpreted.

As my question says:

  • If I dress awkwardly, then is it or can I say that I did something that is out of social context?

Does "out of context" here mean "an unsuitable choice of dress"?

It seems to imply that I did something inappropriate.

Here's a picture example [source]:

enter image description here

Its description reads:

Display what you love, even if it seems out of context. Curiosities in this drawing room belonging to interior designers Philip Vergeylen and Paolo Moschino include two of Paolo's collection of silver tortoises | Soft neutrals with toned down gentle pastels combined with textured, worm wood gives this space a lovely, laid-back feel. Love!

This all seems to imply that "out of context" = unsuitable or inappropriate. So, is that another meaning of it?

  • 1
    "out of context" = unsuitable or inappropriate in some specific situation in your cited example. The writer apparently thinks those silver turtles aren't stylistically "compatible" with the overall tone of the decor, so they're "out of context". Perhaps she thinks they'd be more appropriate in a room with a more hard-edged technological style, I dunno. It's wishy-washy writing anyway. Commented Oct 7, 2018 at 14:09
  • A Hallowe'en pumpkin on the table would be out of context, or a little replica of a guillotine. Clothing and apparel could be out of context, like wearing a backpack to a wedding.
    – TimR
    Commented Oct 7, 2018 at 14:31
  • But inappropriate would be the likely adjectival modifier in your clothing scenario. Wearing a backpack to a formal wedding is inappropriate. out of context in the sense used in the furnishings blurb to describe individual pieces means "does not really belong there with the rest of the items because it is not in the same style."
    – TimR
    Commented Oct 7, 2018 at 15:52
  • @Tᴚoɯɐuo: "furnishings blurb" means like furnished tiles? E.g. My bathroom has all pink stuff (sink, heater, taps, titles, flush, bucket and even pipes) and if I bring in green mug, can I say "the mug is out of context"?
    – user92131
    Commented Oct 7, 2018 at 18:14
  • Not really. The phrase means something more than the wrong color. It means that the item doesn't belong for thematic reasons. For example, if you had a room decorated in Mediterranean style and there was a stuffed polar bear in the corner of the room, you could say "That polar bear seems really out of context." Or if you had a desert cactus motif clashing with dolphin decorations.
    – TimR
    Commented Oct 7, 2018 at 18:17

1 Answer 1


If you wear a bikini to a formal evening dinner, your dress will be "out of context" but will usually be referred to as


In your interior design example, "out of context" is used to possibly mean


since most people have been taught to look for "themes" (context) in interior design.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .