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

Still, even beset with historically low approval ratings, multiple scandals and opposition from both parties, most respondents — 16, or 76% — say history will ultimately judge Trump’s presidency as good or even great. Josh Hafner, USA TODAY, "Trump voters think he's lying about Stormy Daniels. And no, they don't really care.," 2 May 2018 Residents are demanding improvements to the buildings, which, tenant organizer Trinidad Ruiz said, have been beset with roaches, rats, bedbugs, security problems, mold, plumbing problems including sewage leaks, and more. Marissa J. Lang, Washington Post, "Rent strikes grow in popularity among tenants as gentrification drives up rents in cities like D.C.," 9 June 2018 Davis was stationed in the Kensington neighborhood, an area of the city beset with drug trafficking, prosecutors said. Jared Gilmour, miamiherald, "Car crash left a grandma dead — and revealed a Philadelphia cop’s ‘outrageous’ crimes | Miami Herald," 9 Apr. 2018 The county is funding most of the project, including the statue, which has been delayed and beset with unknown rising costs. Jasper Scherer, San Antonio Express-News, "Rickhoff kicks off Bexar County judge race with attacks on Wolff for “pay to play,” art spending," 19 Mar. 2018 Mörch’s story is a window into how communities beset by violence begin to cope with the unthinkable toll: by leaning on one another. Mark Sappenfield, The Christian Science Monitor, "A heart that refuses to close," 11 Mar. 2018 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

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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Statistics for beset

Last Updated

11 Nov 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).


something that serves to warn or remind

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