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situational, adj.

Frequency (in current use): 
Origin: Formed within English, by derivation. Etymons: situation n., -al suffix1.
Etymology: < situation n. + -al suffix1.
In quot. 1867 at sense 1, which is taken from an English abstract of the curriculum of the Imperial Polytechnic in Vienna, probably after German situationell (1851 or earlier).
With sense 2   compare later situationism n. 1.

 1. Of, relating to, or determined by a situation or situations (in various senses of situation n.); dependent on or determined by circumstances.

1867   Jrnl. Soc. Arts 20 Sept. 677/2   Situational drawing (Situational Zeichnen [sic]), 6 hours.
1877   Dundee Courier & Argus 10 Apr. 4/5   The serious structural and situational defects of the Asylum.
1903   Academy 27 June 632/1   His very language and dialogue start into dramatic life—albeit a rhetorical life, as situational drama (if we may coin the term) always is rhetorical.
1938   Monogr. Soc. Res. Child Devel. 3 57   The description, frequency, severity, and situational context of problem behaviour.
1959   J. L. M. Trim in R. Quirk et al. Teaching of Eng. iii. 87   Nouns, principal verbs, adjectives and adverbs are indefinite in number and therefore subject to primarily situational constraints.
1979   H. M. Leichter Compar. Approach Policy Anal. iv. 87   We have seen that situational factors—international tension, war, and internal conflict—have an important impact on military spending.
2005   Miami Herald (Nexis) 17 Oct. g21   Though patterns occur, most behavior is situational and not predestined.

1867—2005(Hide quotations)


 2. Philosophy and Social Sciences. Of, relating to, or based on situationism (situationism n. 1).

1916   Internat. Jrnl. Ethics 26 277   In contrast with such a naive syllogistic procedure is the logic underlying the opinion of the liberal judges. For want of better terms I shall call this the functional, genetic, evolutionary, or situational logic.
1930   Jrnl. Philos. 27 411   In contrast with the older method of regulating specific inquiries by wholesale metaphysical or epistemological principles we have something approaching a methodology of ‘situational analysis’.
1989   M. J. MacKinnon Symbolic Interactionism as Affect Control (1994) 27   As implied by a situational theory of action, the choice of behavior..is constrained by logical and causal thinking about previous events in a sequence of interaction.
2010   Polit. Psychol. 31 243   The majority of intergroup and group processes research has focused on a situational approach.

1916—2010(Hide quotations)


Special uses


  situational awareness   n. understanding or awareness of a situation; (now) esp. awareness of what is happening around oneself, esp. with regard to the identification and evaluation of potential hazards or danger, established through close observation of the surrounding environment and events.

1945   PMLA 60 926   The objection that Erec does not know what Enide is doing while he sleeps, must..be discarded as not doing justice to the sense of unconscious situational awareness which must be reckoned with in this kind of poetry.
1992   J. Peters & J. Nichol Tornado Down (1993) vii. 56   For my situational awareness, I had to rely on John Nichol, gazing into his radarscope behind me.
2017   J. Wetherbee Controlling Risk in Dangerous World iv. 83   One of the keys to staying alive in hazardous operations is perfecting the ability to maintain situational awareness.

1945—2017(Hide quotations)


  situational ethics n. Philosophy a theory or doctrine asserting that ethical judgement should take into account circumstances and social context rather than follow absolute moral laws or standards; = situation ethics n. at situation n. Compounds.

1946   R. S. Hartman Can Field Theory be applied to Ethics? (Ph.D. diss., Northwestern Univ.) ii. i. 76   [Nicolai] Hartmann's situational ethics can be regarded as a differentiation of Bergson's societal and cosmic ethics.
1969   Observer 21 Dec. (Colour Suppl.) 38/3   As for sin—situational ethics could take care of that.
2004   Afr. Amer. Rev. 38 491/2   Spenser is guided by the situational ethics of many fictional sleuths.

1946—2004(Hide quotations)


  situational morality   n. moral judgement based on, or taking into account, circumstances and social context; cf. situation morality n. at situation n. Compounds.

1951   R. B. Textor Failure in Japan 241   Dr. Kluckhohn used the term, ‘situational morality’, to describe Japanese behavior during and just after the hostilities.
1978   J. M. Gustafson Protestant & Roman Catholic Ethics ii. 48   Rahner's criticisms warned against the radical extension of situational morality.
2009   Jrnl. Relig. in Afr. 39 288   The pastor used situational morality to avoid damaging his legitimacy as a Christian leader.

1951—2009(Hide quotations)




  situˈationalism   n. Philosophy and Social Sciences any theory or doctrine asserting the importance of circumstances and social context in determining human behaviour or morality; = situationism n. 1.

1942   Amer. Pref. 7 311   The question of ‘situationalism’, as it actually arises, is this: whether we may call false what we once called true of a situation, simply because now we are in it.
1971   N. H. G. Robinson Groundwk. Christian Ethics ix. 242   Nor indeed may we expect any other outcome, unless..the logical successor to Bonhoeffer is to be found either in secularization or in situationalism.
2004   Times Lit. Suppl. 10 Dec. 11/3   ‘Situationalism’ holds that the major determinant of a person's actions is construction and internal representation of the meaning of the situation.

1942—2004(Hide quotations)


  situˈationalist adj. Philosophy and Social Sciences of, relating to, or advocating situationalism; cf. situationist adj. 1.

1942   E. Pendell Society under Anal. xx. 558   The Situationalist Group. Enrico Ferri, almost at the time of the birth of scientific criminology, recognized the importance of environmental factors.
1964   Jrnl. Politics 26 907   Finally there is the factualist or situationalist approach to social and politically theory.
1970   W. K. Frankena in K. Pahel & M. Schiller Readings in Contemp. Ethical Theory 542   Views variously referred to as antinomian,..existentialist, situationalist, or contextualist.

1942—1970(Hide quotations)


  situˈationally adv. with regards to situation; in a situational manner.

1920   Wisconsin Congregational Church Life June 20   Its aim is to put the vital plusage of all that may be contained in the great word Christian into an academy, standardized, situationally adaptable.
1964   R. H. Robins Gen. Linguistics 191   A sentence is by definition grammatically complete (the alleged ‘incomplete’ or ‘elliptical’ situationally tied sentences are complete in those situations).
1977   J. D. Douglas in J. D. Douglas & J. M. Johnson Existential Sociol. i. 60   There are other reasons why we see experience as necessarily problematic, as necessarily free and situationally contingent.
2004   J. W. Messerschmidt Flesh & Blood iii. 37   The actual accomplishment of masculinity and femininity varies situationally—that is, gender is renegotiated continuously through social interaction.

1920—2004(Hide quotations)