be·​set | \ bi-ˈset How to pronounce beset (audio) , 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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from beset

besetment \ bi-​ˈset-​mənt How to pronounce besetment (audio) , 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

Chinese makers of commercial electric vehicles have been beset with customer complaints about reliability, Mr. Xu said, giving foreign auto makers a chance to overhaul China’s early lead. Trefor Moss, WSJ, "China ‘Is the Only One in the Race’ to Make Electric Buses, Taxis and Trucks," 3 Dec. 2018 Photos: Getty Images The grounding of Boeing Co.’s 737 MAX jetliners continues to ripple through the airline industry, with two airlines now extending flight cancellations into August as efforts to fix the planes are beset with delays. Doug Cameron, WSJ, "American Joins Southwest in Extending Flight Cancellations as Jet-Grounding Drags On," 14 Apr. 2019 The airline’s Boeing 787 Dreamliners have been beset by repair problems on their Rolls-Royce engines. Robert Wall, WSJ, "Rolls-Royce Jet-Engine Woes Pressure Plane Makers," 26 Oct. 2018 California’s high-speed rail project, initially conceived to connect San Francisco and Sacramento with Los Angeles and San Diego, has been beset with delays and cost increases. Alejandro Lazo, WSJ, "California Trims Its High-Speed Rail Ambitions," 12 Feb. 2019 So, after Charles and Camilla came through the doors the night of the ball, beset by flashing bulbs and requests to see the ring, Julia was behind them. Penny Junor, Vanities, "How Camilla Won Over the Queen and Became the Duchess of Cornwall," 28 Mar. 2018 Holding banners and chanting slogans decrying the hardship besetting blue-collar Turkish Cypriots, protesters ended a march organized by a coalition of trade unions near the breakaway Turkish Cypriot north's parliament to voice their disgruntlement. Menelaos Hadjicostis, Fox News, "Turkish Cypriots protest price hikes from Turkish lira woes," 6 Sep. 2018 Activists, who take stakes in companies and push them to make changes to boost their stock prices, benefited from a market that was beset by fears of rising interest rates, slowing economic growth and trade tension. Cara Lombardo, WSJ, "Activist Investors Gain Clout as Stocks Tumble," 26 Dec. 2018 But that means the queue now winds around the square, which is beset by relentless construction, chaos on chaos. Cnt Editors, Condé Nast Traveler, "Loud, Crowded, Grease-Stained, and Gloriously Drunk: Where the World Eats After Hours," 8 Oct. 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about beset

Statistics for beset

Last Updated

27 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for beset

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for beset



English Language Learners Definition of beset

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


be·​set | \ bi-ˈset How to pronounce beset (audio) \
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.

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on beset

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with beset

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for beset

Spanish Central: Translation of beset

Nglish: Translation of beset for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of beset for Arabic Speakers

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).


to move with exaggerated bouncy motions

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Finance Words Quiz

  • a-piggy-bank
  • The etymology of mortgage is related most closely to which two words?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!