set piece


plural set pieces
: a composition (as in literature, art, or music) executed in a fixed or ideal form often with studied artistry and brilliant effect
: a scene, depiction, speech, or event that is obviously designed to have an imposing effect
: a realistic piece of stage scenery standing by itself
: a precisely planned and conducted military operation
an offensive set piece that caught the enemy off guard
sports : a carefully planned sequence of movements performed by the members of a team (as in soccer)
A set piece can be used on either a direct or indirect type of [free] kick, providing one of the few times during the game that a team can execute something that it may have spent hours practicing.Doug Roberson
set-piece adjective

Example Sentences

a movie with some lovely set pieces She scored with a set piece.
Recent Examples on the Web In the film’s most remarkable set piece, shot in the town hall in a single, 17-minute take, all of the community’s festering rages and resentments come through. Peter Rainer, The Christian Science Monitor, 27 Apr. 2023 What was the most daunting set piece? Mikey O'connell, The Hollywood Reporter, 3 Mar. 2023 In one dramatic set piece, apparently based on true events, an infamous bandit repents before the archbishop of Milan. Sam Sacks, WSJ, 23 Sep. 2022 In the end, the movie also functions as a nostalgic set piece. Meg Jacobs, CNN, 11 Apr. 2023 After the Shazam squad nonchalantly saves dozens of people from the collapsing Benjamin Franklin Bridge (the movie’s standout set piece, and an endorsement for a bipartisan infrastructure bill if there ever was one), the members of Billy’s team start losing their powers. Thomas Floyd, Washington Post, 16 Mar. 2023 Here, the film comes alive beyond its knowing satire; Baumbach wisely makes the ensuing terror a massive, nearly hour-long set piece—by far his loftiest thrill ride yet. David Sims, The Atlantic, 31 Dec. 2022 Glastonbury’s score also came from a set piece, as a corner kick was at first deflected out of the box, but fell to the feet of senior defender Anna Shaheen, who sent it into the bottom corner of the goal. Steve Smith, Hartford Courant, 2 Nov. 2022 And that was a big set piece…quite literally! Nojan Aminosharei, Men's Health, 24 June 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'set piece.' 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

1834, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of set piece was in 1834

Dictionary Entries Near set piece

Cite this Entry

“Set piece.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Jun. 2023.

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