be·​set bi-ˈset How to pronounce beset (audio)
beset; besetting

transitive verb

: to set or stud with or as if with ornaments
a crown beset with rubies
… leaves, whose edges were beset with thorns …J. G. Frazer
: trouble, harass
inflation besets the economy
: to set upon : assail
the explorers were beset by wolves
: to hem in : surround
a town beset with high mountains
besetment noun

Examples of beset in a Sentence

A lack of money is the greatest problem besetting the city today. he's been beset by a lack of self-confidence virtually his entire life
Recent Examples on the Web In 1970, Allende won an election on an openly socialist platform, and was immediately beset by a series of potentially catastrophic challenges. Brian Merchant, Los Angeles Times, 21 Sep. 2023 Abigail Thaw delivers the stories beautifully, her manner and intonation picking up each character’s personality — snobbish, arrogant, beset upon or naive. Katherine A. Powers, Washington Post, 25 Aug. 2023 Medical bankruptcies, which currently beset half a million Americans a year, will become a thing of the past as people’s medical care will replace private profit as the focus of the U.S. healthcare system. Northwest Indiana Medicare For All, Chicago Tribune, 11 Aug. 2023 The plane has been beset by manufacturing delays and cost-overruns and is expected to cost $1.7 trillion over its entire lifespan. Peter Vanham, Fortune, 3 Aug. 2023 Alderson Broaddus had been beset with financial difficulties for years, tax filings show. Mitchell McCluskey, CNN, 2 Aug. 2023 On Tuesday night, two incumbent city councilors — both beset by controversy — were knocked out of their races in the preliminary election, each of them bested by two challengers, who will now face each other in November. Globe Columnist,, 13 Sep. 2023 Kim also needs food aid for his isolated communist country, beset by periodic waves of starvation. Harold Maass, The Week, 5 Sep. 2023 Monday is traditionally the day most people leave the weeklong celebration of countercultural music and arts, but this year the green light for departure unlocked a venue beset by impassable roads, muddy tents, and a more than 5-mile hike to get out following heavy rains. Dennis Romero, NBC News, 4 Sep. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'beset.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English besetten, from Old English besettan, from be- + settan to set

First Known Use

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of beset was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near beset

Cite this Entry

“Beset.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Oct. 2023.

Kids Definition


be·​set bi-ˈset How to pronounce beset (audio)
beset; besetting
: to trouble with problems
: to set upon : assail

More from Merriam-Webster on beset

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