setoff

1 of 2

noun

set·​off ˈset-ˌȯf How to pronounce setoff (audio)
1
: something that is set off against another thing:
2
: the reduction or discharge of a debt or claim by setting against it a distinct claim in favor of the debtor or party who is the object of the first claim (as in a lawsuit)
also : the offsetting claim itself
3

set off

2 of 2

verb

set off; setting off; sets off

transitive verb

1
a
: to put in relief : show up by contrast
c
: to set apart : make distinct or outstanding
2
a
: offset, compensate
more variety in the Lancashire weather to set off its most disagreeable phasesGeog. Jour.
b
: to make a setoff of
the respective totals shall be set off against one anotherO. R. Hobson
3
a
: to set in motion : cause to begin
b
: to cause to explode
4
: to measure off on a surface

intransitive verb

: to start out on a course or a journey
set off for home

Examples of setoff in a Sentence

Noun the architect used stone carvings as setoffs for the building's marble facing
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
That setoff a worldwide hunt for the impact site. Roni Dengler, Discover Magazine, 21 Feb. 2019
Verb
In the 1950s, for example, a flock of Canada geese was interpreted as a possible Soviet attack and set off an early warning system in the U.S. James Broughel, Forbes, 16 Feb. 2024 In August, Petras set off on her Feed the Beast World Tour before making her way across the U.S. with stops in Boston, New York City, Los Angeles, Phoenix, and San Diego. Tomás Mier, Rolling Stone, 14 Feb. 2024 Plumbing the secrets of shipwrecks’ second lives as marine habitats On April 30, 1940, the Arlington set off from Port Arthur, in the Canadian province of Ontario, under the command of Captain Frederick Burke. Kelsey Ables, Washington Post, 13 Feb. 2024 The discovery of a dead desert bighorn sheep near an Arizona field has set off a search for the poacher, wildlife officials said. Helena Wegner, Sacramento Bee, 12 Feb. 2024 Public reporting on the discussions, first disclosed by Politico, set off a firestorm of speculation over whether another deal may have been quietly struck to prolong a domestic surveillance program no longer assumed to have the support of a majority of Congress. Dell Cameron, WIRED, 12 Feb. 2024 The scene may have been enough to set off another round of right-wing conspiracy theories about Ms. Swift, with her legion of devoted fans, being a Pentagon mole sent to influence this year’s presidential election. Billy Witz, New York Times, 12 Feb. 2024 The couple whose pyrotechnics during a gender-reveal party set off what came to be known as the massive El Dorado fire in San Bernardino County in 2020 was sentenced Friday after reaching a plea deal with prosecutors. Rachel Uranga, Los Angeles Times, 11 Feb. 2024 In San Francisco’s Chinatown, amid Lunar New Year celebrations, a crowd surrounded the autonomous vehicle, broke its windows, and set off fireworks inside it, setting it ablaze. Steve Mollman, Fortune, 11 Feb. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'setoff.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

Noun

1621, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

circa 1598, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of setoff was circa 1598

Dictionary Entries Near setoff

Cite this Entry

“Setoff.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/setoff. Accessed 24 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

set off

verb
1
a
: to cause to show up clearly
bright flowers set off by dark shadows
b
: to separate from others : make noticeable
a direct quotation set off by quotation marks
2
a
: to cause to go off or explode
set off an alarm
set off a firecracker
b
: to cause to start : begin
set an argument off by your remarks
3
: to start out on a course or a trip
set off for home
set off in a boat

Legal Definition

set-off

1 of 2 noun
ˈset-ˌȯf
1
: the reduction or discharge of a debt by setting against it a claim in favor of the debtor
specifically : the reduction or discharge of a party's debt or claim by an assertion of another claim arising out of another transaction or cause of action against the other party
2
a
: a right to seek reduction or discharge of a debt or claim by countering a party's claim with an independent claim
b
: a counterclaim made by a defendant against a plaintiff for reduction or discharge of a debt by reason of an independent debt owed by the plaintiff to the defendant compare recoupment sense 2

set off

2 of 2 transitive verb
: to reduce or discharge by set-off : offset

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