set·​back | \ ˈset-ˌbak How to pronounce setback (audio) \

Definition of setback

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a checking of progress
4 : a placing of a face of a building on a line some distance to the rear of the building line or of the wall below also : the area produced by a setback
5 : automatic scheduled adjustment to a lower temperature setting of a thermostat
6 : the distance of a structure or other feature (such as a well or septic system) from the property line or other feature

set back

set back; setting back; sets back

Definition of set back (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to slow the progress of : hinder, delay
2 : cost a new suit will set you back $200

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Synonyms for setback

Synonyms: Noun

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Examples of setback in a Sentence

Noun Despite some early setbacks, they eventually became a successful company. the colonists persevered despite suffering setbacks that would have discouraged lesser souls
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The Planning Department staff report notes that a conservation easement will restrict any development from the riparian setback, preserve the land in its natural state and will be recorded on the plat as was approved by the rezoning. Thomas Jewell, cleveland, "Shaker Country Club seeks to build one house, not two on western corner of golf course," 4 Jan. 2021 The latest setback came on Tuesday night when the first leg of the Sun Devils' swing through Washington was canceled. Michelle Gardner, The Arizona Republic, "Arizona State men's basketball team forging ahead, working through obstacles," 31 Dec. 2020 The probe is part of an accelerating crackdown on anticompetitive behavior in China’s booming internet space, and the latest setback for Ma, the 56-year-old former school teacher who founded Alibaba and became China’s most famous entrepreneur. NBC News, "China launches antitrust investigation into tech giant Alibaba," 24 Dec. 2020 The setback essentially allowed new Silicon Valley companies like Facebook to pull ahead — a fate that the social-networking giant, years later, now seeks to avoid for itself. Washington Post, "U.S. vs. Facebook: Inside the tech giant’s behind-the-scenes campaign to battle back antitrust lawsuits," 22 Dec. 2020 Despite the brief timeline setback, officials remain optimistic. oregonlive, "Oregon’s COVID-19 testing capacity, an issue throughout pandemic, to see big boost in 2021," 19 Dec. 2020 Still, the most painful setback is the loss of the SHIP money, which counties rely on to pay for home repairs and down payment assistance for low-income residents. Kate Santich,, "This was the year for Central Florida to make headway on affordable housing. Then the virus hit. | Part 3 of Special Series," 17 Dec. 2020 Hopes for the new stimulus package have become the latest catalyst for a market rally that has sent the S&P 500 up 15% this year, despite the economic setback triggered by the coronavirus pandemic. Karen Langley And Mischa Frankl-duval, WSJ, "S&P 500 Up Slightly as Investors Await Stimulus Deal," 16 Dec. 2020 The high court’s decision was the latest legal setback in GOP efforts to overturn Nov. 3 results that gave Democrat Joe Biden a victory over President Trump, denying Trump a second four-year term. Dom Calicchio, Fox News, "Texas GOP Chair Allen West says SCOTUS setback may call for new 'union' of 'law-abiding states'," 13 Dec. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'setback.' 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 setback


1674, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1600, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for setback

Time Traveler

The first known use of setback was in 1600

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Statistics for setback

Last Updated

12 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Setback.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for setback


How to pronounce set back (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of setback

: a problem that makes progress more difficult or success less likely


set·​back | \ ˈset-ˌbak How to pronounce setback (audio) \

Kids Definition of setback

: a slowing of progress : a temporary defeat Despite several setbacks we finished on schedule.

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