I am looking for a word that is a synonym for "context" or "situation" but describes someone's present moment in a more holistic way. It would be a single word that refers to the entirety of the situation - the location, the surroundings, the feelings, the time, etc.

Any ideas? A regular Thesaurus wasn't helping. Thanks!


I am specifically looking for a short word, preferably one syllable, but a word that still grasps many aspects of a situation:

  • External (environment, surroundings)
  • Internal (emotions, sequence of events in one's life, the "aura" surrounding the person & situation)

I know that these limit the synonym possibilities, but that's why a Thesaurus wasn't helping!

I am also open to words that may not have an English origin, or even a hybrid.


  • What's wrong with 'context'? You need to give us the context to have any idea of why one word or another will work.
    – Mitch
    Commented Oct 6, 2015 at 11:54
  • Mitch, you are correct, I did a poor job of explaining what I need. I'll edit the question to explain more.
    – sean
    Commented Oct 6, 2015 at 12:25
  • Let me quote the best I have ever seen here by Robusto. Just because you can think up a description doesn't mean there will be a single word it applies to. What's a single word for a left-handed nun who eats pickled herring before chanting vespers at a Lithuanian convent?
    – user140086
    Commented Oct 6, 2015 at 12:49
  • Well said! There very well may not be a single word for what I describe, but I'll never know unless I ask!
    – sean
    Commented Oct 6, 2015 at 13:01
  • I've posted an answer, but if you want an informal word in modern usage what about 'place', eg. "He's not in a very good place at the moment.", meaning something like 'his overall situation is unenviable'.
    – JHCL
    Commented Oct 6, 2015 at 13:11

3 Answers 3


To the edited question (single-syllable requirement), I'd simply suggest 'State':

The particular condition that someone or something is in at a specific time: (-- Oxford Dictionaries Online)

  • "State" is not bad at all. I think it does meet all those conditions. I may accept this answer, but I'm really looking for something more elegant. I know that's pretty demanding, but I'm hoping to use this word in a title, so the feelings it evokes is important. Thanks, good answer!
    – sean
    Commented Oct 7, 2015 at 1:34

Consider circumstances.

circumstances : the way something happens : the specific details of an event


  • I like this answer as it can refer to the internal (eg. state of mind) and personal (eg. physical capabilities), as well as the external (environmental) situation.
    – JHCL
    Commented Oct 6, 2015 at 12:21
  • I did a poor job of explaining exactly what I need. "Circumstances" is a bit too "technical". I will explain more in an edit to the question. Thanks though!
    – sean
    Commented Oct 6, 2015 at 12:23

[Environment] includes everything around you in a more holistic way as defined in Merriam-Webster:

the circumstances, objects, or conditions by which one is surrounded

  • I did a poor job of explaining exactly what I need. "Environment" is good for referring to one's surroundings, but not all that I need. Thanks though!
    – sean
    Commented Oct 6, 2015 at 12:24

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