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

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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 Carmakers are under increasing pressure to consolidate in an industry beset by rising costs and disruptive technologies. The Economist, "Business this week," 2 Nov. 2019 The dramatic dynamic is this: Catherine, who became ruler of Russia by overthrowing her own husband, Peter II, in a coup d'état, is beset by various challenges to the throne. Los Angeles Times, "Review: Helen Mirren rules in ‘Catherine the Great’," 21 Oct. 2019 The court today is beset by partisan divides in a way that Holmes’s generation could barely have understood. John Fabian Witt, The New Republic, "The Shrinking Legacy of a Supreme Court Justice," 1 Oct. 2019 At a company still trying to establish itself, in an industry beset by regulatory uncertainty, Select leaders are deepening their ties to ViSalus – a company with a history nearly as tortured as its own. Mike Rogoway, oregonlive, "Controversial Portland marijuana firm hires president with his own baggage," 21 Sep. 2019 The investigation into the deadly Aug. 28 shooting of 30-year-old Antonio Parra is already beset with a number of anomalies that are not common in many homicide investigation. Adam Ferrise,, "Prosecutor: Cleveland Police should ask for outside agency to investigate deadly shooting that led police to Mayor Frank Jackson’s house," 9 Sep. 2019 Both properties have retail occupancy rates above 95%, an enviable rate in an industry beset by bankruptcies. Roland Li,, "Retail isn’t dead: Two shopping centers on list of Bay Area’s most valuable buildings," 29 Aug. 2019 Chicago is beset by unending violence, unending political corruption and unyielding public workers pension debt, and lags far behind other cities in economic development for poor neighborhoods. John Kass,, "With judge's ruling, Obama gets his lakefront Temple of Love," 12 June 2019 This week, its first attempt at a Marchionne-style mega-merger with France’s Renault SA imploded in dramatic fashion, exposing the carmaker’s stalled fortunes in an industry beset by blurring changes. Bernhard Warner, Fortune, "The Renault Deal Is Dead, But Fiat Chrysler Still Desperately Needs a Partner," 7 June 2019

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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Time Traveler for beset

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for beset

Last Updated

9 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Beset.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 11 December 2019.

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More Definitions for beset


How to pronounce beset (audio)

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.

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More from Merriam-Webster on beset

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for beset

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with beset

Spanish Central: Translation of beset

Nglish: Translation of beset for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of beset for Arabic Speakers

Comments on beset

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heavy with or as if with moisture

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