\ˈset \
set; setting

Definition of set 

(Entry 1 of 3)

transitive verb

1 : to cause to sit : place in or on a seat

2a : 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

4a : 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 sense 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

6a : 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

7a : 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

9a : 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

11a : 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 homeManchester Examiner

12a : 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

13a : 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

14a : 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

17a : 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

18a : 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

20a : to direct to action

b : to incite to attack or antagonism war sets brother against brother

21a : 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

23a : 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

4a : 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

6a : 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

11a : 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 sense 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



Definition of set (Entry 2 of 3)

1a : 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

3a : 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 \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



Definition of set (Entry 3 of 3)

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

5a : 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

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Synonyms & Antonyms for set

Synonyms: Verb

brood, hatch, incubate, sit

Synonyms: Noun

bloc, block, body, coalition, faction, party, sect, side, wing

Synonyms: Adjective

fit, go, prepared, ready

Antonyms: Adjective

flat-footed, half-baked, half-cocked, underprepared, unprepared, unready

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Examples of set in a Sentence


We need to set some extra chairs around the table. He set the ladder against the wall and walked away. I remember setting my bag right here. They set the bricks along the walkway. The jeweler can set the stone several different ways. He turned off the car and set the parking brake. Rangers will set a trap to catch the bear. We set an extra place at the table for our guest.


I need to buy a new set of golf clubs. The kids are allowed to watch two hours of television. After that, I turn off the set. We met on the set of Hamlet.


Her college is set in the countryside. Their house is set back from the road. a man with deep-set eyes She has very set ideas about how children should behave.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The Star Wars Galactic Empire DSA keycap set features a color scheme that wouldn’t be out of place at a computer terminal in the Death Star. Jon Porter, The Verge, "Officially licensed Star Wars keycaps are here, and they cost $250," 6 Dec. 2018 Broadly speaking, across time and generations, JAPs favor loungewear and matchy-matchy sets. Jamie Lauren Keiles, Vox, "How the JAP became America’s most complex Jewish stereotype.," 5 Dec. 2018 And the Flying Man, a three-piece set that’s designed for working while laying on your stomach. Liz Stinson, Curbed, "At last, a furniture collection designed to mimic working from bed," 5 Dec. 2018 The flowing design is equally pleasing individually or as a set—the designer recommends setting them in a place where light can infuse them. Lane Florsheim, WSJ, "Online Staff Writer Lane Florsheim’s Holiday Gift Guide: Color Their World," 3 Dec. 2018 Fenty Beauty is partaking in the festivities, with its Two Lil Mattemoiselles set and Mini Fairy Bomb glitter puff packaged in chic transparent orbs. Tess Garcia, Teen Vogue, "Sephora is Selling Beauty Product Holiday Ornaments," 2 Dec. 2018 While Joanna's pick will cost you a pretty penny, there are plenty of other similar stroller sets at various price points, which feature similar capabilities including travel systems, car seat connectors, removable seats, and more. Jessica Leigh Mattern, Country Living, "Here's Where to Buy the Super-Popular Stroller Joanna Gaines Uses for Baby Crew," 21 Oct. 2018 Google parent company Alphabet has a dedicated life sciences research subsidiary called Verily and a life extension effort known as Calico, both of which stand to benefit from easier access to wider health data sets and research results. Nick Statt, The Verge, "Apple might help bring veterans’ medical records into the modern era," 21 Nov. 2018 For these reasons, beauty gift sets are among my personal favorite to give (and receive). Tiffany Dodson, SELF, "16 of the Best Beauty Gift Sets This Holiday Season," 16 Nov. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

In mid- and low-end processors, the processor is locked to only run at a set speed. Richard Baguley, Ars Technica, "Review: Intel’s 9th Gen Core i9 9900K processor hits 5GHz—just at a price," 17 Nov. 2018 For the set monthly price of $1,395, subscribers can chose from a range of vehicles, including the Audi A4 sedan, A5 Cabriolet, Audi Q5 and Audi Q7 SUVs, and S5 Coupe. Andrew J. Hawkins, The Verge, "Audi’s new subscription service lets you swap vehicles twice a month," 21 Sep. 2018 This customer purchased a government contract plan for a high-speed wireless data allotment at a set monthly cost. Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica, "Verizon throttled fire department’s “unlimited” data during Calif. wildfire," 21 Aug. 2018 This customer purchased a government contract plan for a high-speed wireless data allotment at a set monthly cost. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Verizon Throttled California Fire Department's Data During Largest Fire in California History," 22 Aug. 2018 But those two Apple shows have not exactly set American popular culture on fire. Daniel Arkin /, NBC News, "Apple's script for conquering Hollywood is a mystery so far," 13 July 2018 The malfunction risks causing a vehicle to maintain a set speed even when a motorist taps the brakes or flips a switch to turn off cruise control. Mike Spector, WSJ, "Cruise-Control Glitch Makes Fiat Chrysler No. 1 in Recalls," 21 June 2018 Inspectors from the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency, the group that is monitoring Iran and would be tasked to do the same in North Korea, last set foot in the country nearly a decade ago. Tracy Wilkinson,, "Would a North Korea nuclear deal be better than the one Trump just abandoned with Iran?," 8 June 2018 Four schools are now part of a selective program to help elementary school girls stay in school, dream big and set goals. Byron Mccauley,, "Down on kids these days? These girls will turn your frowns upside down," 26 Feb. 2018

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.

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First Known Use of set


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


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for set


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


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

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set acid

Statistics for set

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Time Traveler for set

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

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More Definitions for set


\ˈset \
set; setting

Kids Definition of set

 (Entry 1 of 3)

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 : start entry 1 sense 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 sense 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.



Kids Definition of set (Entry 2 of 3)

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



Kids Definition of set (Entry 3 of 3)

1 : fixed by authority a set rule

2 : not very willing to change The people he works with are set in their ways.

3 : ready entry 1 sense 1 Are you all set?


\ˈset \
set; setting

Medical Definition of set 

(Entry 1 of 2)

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



Medical Definition of set (Entry 2 of 2)

: 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

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More from Merriam-Webster on set

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for set

Spanish Central: Translation of set

Nglish: Translation of set for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of set for Arabic Speakers

Comments on set

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


living or existing for a long time

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