1

set

verb \ ˈset \
Updated on: 4 Dec 2017

Definition of set

set; setting
transitive verb
1 : to cause to sit : place in or on a seat
2 a : to put (a fowl) on eggs to hatch them
b : to put (eggs) for hatching under a fowl or into an incubator
3 : to place (oneself) in position to start running in a race
4 a : to place with care or deliberate purpose and with relative stability
  • set a ladder against the wall
  • set a stone on the grave
b : transplant 1
  • set seedlings
c (1) : to make (a trap) ready to catch prey
(2) : to fix (a hook) firmly into the jaw of a fish
d : to put aside (something, such as dough containing yeast) for fermenting
5 : to direct with fixed attention
  • set your mind to it
6 a : to cause to assume a specified condition, relation, or occupation
  • slaves were set free
  • set the house on fire
b : to cause the start of
  • set a fire
7 a : to appoint or assign to an office or duty
b : post, station
8 : to cause to assume a specified posture or position
  • set the door ajar
9 a : to fix as a distinguishing imprint, sign, or appearance
  • the years have set their mark on him
b : affix
c : apply
  • set a match to kindling
10 : to fix or decide on as a time, limit, or regulation : prescribe
  • set a wedding day
  • set the rules for the game
11 a : to establish as the highest level or best performance
  • set a record for the half mile
b : to furnish as a pattern or model
  • set an example of generosity
c : to allot as a task
  • setting lessons for the children to work upon at home
  • Manchester Examiner
12 a : to adjust (a device and especially a measuring device) to a desired position
  • set the alarm for 7:00
  • set a thermostat at 68
; also : to adjust (something, such as a clock) in conformity with a standard
b : to restore to normal position or connection when dislocated or fractured
  • set a broken bone
c : to spread to the wind
  • set the sails
13 a : to put in order for use
  • set a place for a guest
b : to make scenically ready for a performance
  • set the stage
c (1) : to arrange (type) for printing
  • set type by hand
(2) : to put into type or its equivalent (as on film)
  • set the first word in italic
14 a : to put a fine edge on by grinding or honing
  • set a razor
b : to bend slightly the tooth points of (a saw) alternately in opposite directions
c : to sink (the head of a nail) below the surface
15 : to fix in a desired position (as by heating or stretching)
16 : to arrange (hair) in a desired style by using implements (such as curlers, rollers, or clips) and gels or lotions
17 a : to adorn with something affixed or infixed : stud, dot
  • clear sky set with stars
b : to fix (something, such as a precious stone) in a border of metal : place in a setting
c : to place in a specified literary or dramatic setting
  • a story set in Paris
18 a : to hold something in regard or esteem at the rate of
  • sets a great deal by daily exercise
b : to place in a relative rank or category
  • set duty before pleasure
c : to fix at a certain amount
  • set bail at $500
d : value, rate
  • their promises were set at naught
e : to place as an estimate of worth
  • set a high value on life
19 : to place in relation for comparison or balance
  • theory set against practice
20 a : to direct to action
b : to incite to attack or antagonism
  • war sets brother against brother
21 a : to place by transporting
  • was set ashore on the island
b : to put in motion
c : to put and fix in a direction
  • set our faces toward home once more
d of a dog : to point out the position of (game) by holding a fixed attitude
22 : to defeat (an opponent or a contract) in bridge
23 a : to fix firmly : make immobile : give rigid form or condition to
  • set her jaw in determination
b : to make unyielding or obstinate
24 : to cause to become firm or solid
  • set milk for cheese
25 : to cause (fruit or seed) to develop
intransitive verb
1 chiefly dialectal : sit
2 : to be becoming : be suitable : fit
  • the coat sets well
3 : to cover and warm eggs to hatch them
4 a : to affect one with or as if with weight
  • the pudding sets heavily on my stomach
b : to place oneself in position in preparation for an action (such as running)
5 of a plant part : to undergo development usually as a result of pollination
6 a : to pass below the horizon : go down
  • the sun sets
b : to come to an end
  • this century sets with little mirth
  • —Thomas Fuller
7 : to apply oneself to some activity
  • set to work
8 : to have a specified direction in motion : flow, tend
  • the wind was setting from Pine Hill to the farm
  • —Esther Forbes
9 of a dog : to indicate the position of game by crouching or pointing
10 : to dance face to face with another in a square dance
  • set to your partner and turn
11 a : to become solid or thickened by chemical or physical alteration
  • the cement sets rapidly
b of a dye or color : to become permanent
c of a bone : to become whole by growing together
set about
: to begin to do
set apart
1 : to reserve to a particular use
2 : to make noticeable or outstanding
set aside
1 : to put to one side : discard
2 : to reserve for a purpose : save
3 : dismiss
set at
: to mount an attack on : assail
  • would go although … devils should set at me
  • —Charlotte Yonge
set eyes on
: to catch sight of
set foot in
: enter
set foot on
: to step onto
set forth
1 : to give an account or statement of
2 : to start out on a journey
set forward
1 : further
2 : to start out on a journey
set in motion
: to give impulse to
  • sets the story in motion vividly
  • —Howard Thompson
set one's hand to
: to become engaged in
set one's heart on
: resolve transitive 5
  • she set her heart on going to medical school
set one's house in order
: to organize one's affairs
set one's sights on
: to determine to pursue
set one's teeth on edge
set one straight
: to correct someone by providing accurate information
set sail
: to start out on a course; especially : to begin a voyage
  • set sail for Bermuda
set store by or set store on
: to consider valuable, trustworthy, or worthwhile
set the stage
: to provide the basis or background
  • this trend will set the stage for higher earnings
set to music
: to provide music or instrumental accompaniment for (a text)
set upon
: to attack usually with violence
  • the dogs set upon the trespassers

Examples of set in a Sentence

  1. We need to set some extra chairs around the table.

  2. He set the ladder against the wall and walked away.

  3. I remember setting my bag right here.

  4. They set the bricks along the walkway.

  5. The jeweler can set the stone several different ways.

  6. He turned off the car and set the parking brake.

  7. Rangers will set a trap to catch the bear.

  8. We set an extra place at the table for our guest.

Origin and Etymology of set

Middle English setten, from Old English settan; akin to Old High German sezzen to set, Old English sittan to sit

set Synonyms

Synonyms
brood, hatch, incubate, sit
Antonyms
loose, loosen, unfasten, unfix, unloose, unloosen
Related Words
lay, spawn
Near Antonyms
arise, get up, rise, stand

2

set

noun

Definition of set

1 a : the act or action of setting
b : the condition of being set
2 : a number of things of the same kind that belong or are used together
  • an electric train set
3 a : mental inclination, tendency, or habit : bent
  • a set toward mathematics
b : a state of psychological preparedness to perceive or respond to an anticipated stimulus or situation
4 : direction of flow
  • the set of the wind
5 : form or carriage of the body or of its parts
  • her face took on a cynical set
  • —Raymond Kennedy
6 : the manner of fitting or of being placed or suspended
  • in order to give the skirt a pretty set
  • —Mary J. Howell
7 : amount of deflection from a straight line
  • set of a saw's teeth
8 : permanent change of form (as of metal) due to repeated or excessive stress
9 : the act or result of arranging hair by curling or waving
10 or less commonly sett play \ˈset\
a : a young plant or rooted cutting ready for transplanting
b : a small bulb, corm, or tuber or a piece of tuber used for propagation
  • onion sets
c : the blossoms of a plant that have set fruit as a result of fertilization
11 or sett : the burrow of a badger
12 : the width of the body of a piece of type
13 : an artificial setting for a scene of a theatrical or film production
14 or less commonly sett : a rectangular paving stone of sandstone or granite
15 : a division of a tennis match won by the side that wins at least six games beating the opponent by two games or by winning a tiebreaker
16 : a collection of books or periodicals forming a unit
17 : a clutch of eggs
18 : the basic formation in a country-dance or square dance
19 : a session of music (such as jazz or dance music) usually followed by an intermission; also : the music played at one session
20 : a group of persons associated by common interests
21 : a collection of elements and especially mathematical ones (such as numbers or points) called also class
22 : an apparatus of electronic components assembled so as to function as a unit
  • a television set
23 : a usually offensive formation in football or basketball
24 : a group of a specific number of repetitions of a particular exercise

Examples of set in a Sentence

  1. I need to buy a new set of golf clubs.

  2. The kids are allowed to watch two hours of television. After that, I turn off the set.

  3. We met on the set of Hamlet.

Recent Examples of set from the Web

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

First Known Use of set

14th century


3

set

adjective

Definition of set

1 : intent, determined
  • set upon going
2 : intentional, premeditated
  • did it of set purpose
3 : fixed by authority or appointment : prescribed, specified
  • set hours of study
4 : reluctant to change
  • set in their ways
5 a : immovable, rigid
  • set frown
b : built-in
  • a set tub
6 : settled, persistent
  • set defiance
7 : being in readiness : prepared
  • set for an early morning start

Examples of set in a Sentence

  1. Her college is set in the countryside.

  2. Their house is set back from the road.

  3. a man with deep-set eyes

  4. She has very set ideas about how children should behave.

Recent Examples of set from the Web

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

Origin and Etymology of set

Middle English sett, from Old English gesett, past participle of settan

SET Defined for Kids

1

set

verb \ ˈset \

Definition of set for Students

set; setting
1 : to put or fix in a place or condition
  • I set the box on a table.
2 : to cause to be, become, or do
  • Police set the prisoner free.
3 : 1start 4
  • He set a fire.
4 : to fix or decide on
  • They set the wedding date.
  • Have you set a price?
5 : to furnish as a model
  • You should set an example for the others.
  • She ran to the front and set the pace.
6 : to adjust or put in order for use
  • Please set the table.
  • Did you set the alarm?
7 : to fix firmly
  • He sets his feet and takes aim.
8 : to pass below the horizon : go down
  • The sun is setting.
9 : to begin some activity
  • They set to work on the cleaning project.
10 : to cause to sit
  • I set the baby in her chair.
11 : to arrange in a desired and especially a normal position
  • Doctors set the broken bone.
12 : to become or cause to become firm or solid
  • Wait for the cement to set.
13 : to cover and warm eggs to hatch them
  • The hen set for days.
14 : to locate the plot of (a story)
15 : to provide (as words or verses) with music
set aside
: to reserve for some purpose
set eyes on
: to catch sight of : see
  • Though he lived nearby, I had never set eyes on him.
set in
: to make its appearance : begin
  • They needed to leave arctic waters before winter set in.
set off
1 : to start a journey
  • We set off for home.
2 : explode 1
  • We set off fireworks.
3 : to make noticeable
  • The phrase is set off by commas.
4 : to cause to start
  • The story set them off laughing.
set out
1 : to begin on a course or journey
  • We arrived a month after we set out.
2 : to begin with a purpose
  • He set out to win.
set up
1 : to place or secure in position
  • Help me set up the tables.
2 : to put in operation
  • The community set up an animal shelter.

2

set

noun

Definition of set for Students

1 : a number of persons or things of the same kind that belong together, are used together, or occur together
  • a set of footsteps
  • He was given two sets of clothes and a towel.
  • —Louis Sachar, Holes
2 : the act or action of going below the horizon
  • the set of the sun
3 : an electronic apparatus
  • a television set
4 : a collection of mathematical elements
5 : a group of tennis games that make up a match
6 : the form or movement of the body or of its parts
  • the set of the shoulders
7 : an artificial setting for a scene of a play or motion picture

3

set

adjective

Definition of set for Students

1 : fixed by authority
  • a set rule
2 : not very willing to change
  • The people he works with are set in their ways.
3 : 1ready 1
  • Are you all set?

Medical Dictionary

1

set

verb \ ˈset \

medical Definition of set

set; setting
transitive verb
: to restore to normal position or connection when dislocated or fractured
  • set a broken bone
intransitive verb
1 : to become solid or thickened by chemical or physical alteration
2 of a bone : to become whole by knitting

2

set

noun

medical Definition of set

: a state of psychological preparedness usually of limited duration for action in response to an anticipated stimulus or situation
  • the influence of mental set on problem solving


Seen and Heard

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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

WORD OF THE DAY

of, relating to, or being an oracle

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Intact Latin Quiz

  • roman-tablet
  • What did focus mean in Latin?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

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

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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