late 14c., diffinicioun, definicion, "decision, setting of boundaries, determination and stating of the limits and distinctive nature of a thing," also "limitations," also "a statement of the meaning of a word or phrase," from Old French definicion, from Latin definitionem (nominative definitio) "a bounding, a boundary; a limiting, prescribing; a definition, explanation," the last sense most often in Cicero, noun of action from past-participle stem of definire "to limit, determine, explain," from de "completely" (see de-) + finire "to bound, limit," from finis "boundary, end" (see finish (v.)). In logic, meaning "act of stating what something means" is from 1640s. Meaning "degree of distinctness of the details in a picture" is from 1889.
"pertaining to or dealing with the context," 1822, from context on model of textual, etc. In philosophy, contextual definition is recorded from 1873, contextualization from 1930, contextualizefrom 1934. Related: Contextualized; contextualizing; contextually.
"act of cutting down and clearing away the forests of a region or tract," 1870, noun of action from deforest (q.v.). Earlier was deforesting (1530s) which was a legal term for the change in definition of a parcel of land from "forest" to something else.
also hutzpah, 1892, from Yiddish khutspe "impudence, gall," from Hebrew hutspah. The classic definition is that given by Leo Rosten: "that quality enshrined in a man who, having killed his mother and father, throws himself on the mercy of the court because he is an orphan."