Inflammation is a rapid yet coordinated response that can lead to the destruction of microbes and host tissue. Triggers capable of inducing an inflammatory response include tissue damage and infection by pathogenic and nonpathogenic microbes. Each of these triggers represents a qualitatively distinct stress to the host immune system, yet our understanding of whether they are interpreted as such remains poor. Accumulating evidence suggests that recognition of these distinct stimuli converges on many of the same receptors of the innate immune system. Here I provide an overview of these innate receptors and suggest that the innate immune system can interpret the context of an inflammatory trigger and direct inflammation accordingly.