be·set | \bi-ˈset, bē-\
beset; besetting

Definition of beset 

transitive verb

1 : 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

2 : trouble, harass inflation besets the economy

3a : to set upon : assail the explorers were beset by wolves

b : to hem in : surround a town beset with high mountains

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Other Words from beset

besetment \bi-ˈset-mənt, bē- \ 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

The pitching staff, led by Sean Manaea, has been beset by injuries but is getting the job done. Ann Killion,, "Giants, A’s enter Bay Bridge Series on the rise," 12 July 2018 The Steamship Authority, which operates ferries from Cape Cod to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, has been beset by troubles. Jeremy C. Fox,, "Steamship Authority to test Nantucket ferry after trips canceled for mechanical issues," 11 July 2018 That James Bopp, one of the conservative legal architects behind the anti-Roe campaign was opposed to Kavanaugh is an interesting twist in a nominating process that has been beset by indecision. Cristian Farias, Daily Intelligencer, "In Kavanaugh, Trump Found Another Judge Who Will Kiss the Ring," 10 July 2018 The Medieval Climate Optimum had ended around 1300, and Europe had been beset by endless rain and poor crop yields. Anne Thériault, Longreads, "Queens of Infamy: Joanna of Naples," 3 July 2018 Democracy advocates said those elections were also beset by irregularities. Tracy Wilkinson,, "Trump hits Venezuela over criticized presidential election," 21 May 2018 The Steamship Authority, a semipublic agency that operates ferries from Cape Cod to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, recently has been beset by troubles. Jeremy C. Fox,, "Steamship Authority cancels ferry trips on Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket routes," 10 July 2018 Yet according to the thousands of migrants seeking asylum in the U.S., all three countries remain mired in poverty and beset by gang and drug violence. William La Jeunesse, Fox News, "Central America battles corruption, violence despite billions in US aid," 28 June 2018 Without doubt, the road ahead of TEPCO is a long one, beset with challenges greater than those faced to date. William Steel, Ars Technica, "Remediating Fukushima—“When everything goes to hell, you go back to basics”," 11 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'beset.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of beset

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

History and Etymology for beset

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

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Phrases Related to beset

besetting sin

Statistics for beset

Last Updated

14 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for beset

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

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More Definitions for beset



English Language Learners Definition of beset

: to cause problems or difficulties for (someone or something)


be·set | \bi-ˈset \
beset; besetting

Kids Definition of beset

1 : to attack violently The traveler was beset by wild beasts.

2 : surround sense 1 a moon beset with clouds

3 : to cause problems or difficulties for Doubts beset him.

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Comments on beset

What made you want to look up beset? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


exaggeratedly or childishly emotional

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