set·​up | \ ˈset-ˌəp How to pronounce setup (audio) \

Definition of setup

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : carriage of the body especially : erect and soldierly bearing
2a : the assembly and arrangement of the tools and apparatus required for the performance of an operation
b : the preparation and adjustment of machines for an assigned task
3a : a table setting
b : glass, ice, and mixer served to patrons who supply their own liquor
4a : a camera position from which a scene is filmed also : the footage taken from one camera position
b : the final arrangement of the scenery and properties for a scene of a theatrical or cinematic production
5a : a position of the balls in billiards or pool from which it is easy to score
b : a task or contest purposely made easy
c : something easy to get or accomplish
d : something (such as a plot) that has been constructed or contrived
e : the execution of a planned scoring play in sports
6a : the manner in which the elements or components of a machine, apparatus, or system are arranged, designed, or assembled
b : the patterns within which political, social, or administrative forces operate : customary or established practice
7 : project, plan
8 : something done by deceit or trickery in order to compromise or frame someone

set up

set up; setting up; sets up

Definition of set up (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to raise to and place in a high position
b : to place in view : post
c : to put forward (something, such as a plan) for acceptance
2a : to place upright : erect set up a statue
b : to assemble the parts of and erect in position
c : to put (a machine) in readiness or adjustment for an operation
3a : cause, create set up a clamor
4 : to place in power or in office set up the general as dictator
5a : to raise from depression : elate, gratify
b : to make proud or vain
6a : to put forward or extol as a model
b : to claim oneself to be sets himself up as an authority
8a : to provide with means of making a living set him up in business
b : to bring or restore to normal health
c : to cause (one) to take on a soldierly or athletic appearance especially through drill
9 : to erect (a perpendicular or a figure) on a base in a drawing
10a : to make taut (a stay or hawser)
b : to tighten firmly
11 : to make carefully worked out plans for set up a bank robbery
12a : to pay for (drinks)
b : to treat (someone) to something
13a : to put in a compromising or dangerous position usually by trickery or deceit
14 : to execute one or more plays in preparation for scoring

intransitive verb

1 : to come into active operation or use
2 : to begin business
3 : to make pretensions has never set up to be a wise man— Thomas Rogers
4 : to become firm
set up housekeeping
: to establish one's living quarters
set up shop
: to start a business or activity in a particular place

Setup vs. Set-Up vs. Set Up

The noun setup is usually styled as a solid compound (that is, as a single word) in American English and as a hyphenated compound (set-up) in British English. The noun may be used attributively (that is, as an adjective) in such phrases as setup man (“someone who makes machine tool adjustments”) and setup tool (“software that facilitates the installation of a computer program”). The verb set up, on the other hand, is usually found as an open compound (two words, no hyphen) in both American and British English.

Examples of setup in a Sentence

Noun Setup of the new software is a breeze. It took me a while to learn the setup of the office's filing system. We had a great setup. On my days off, my wife would work from home while I took care of the kids. The software makes it easy to create custom setups. Verb set up tables in the living room for the party set up a scholarship fund for deserving students from the inner city See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Users can also add a pair of Sonos One speakers to a home theater setup for surround sound. Andy Meek, BGR, 11 May 2022 This sounds like the perfect setup for a revenge fantasy. Washington Post, 11 May 2022 Moving day — the logistics, the stuff, the intricate tangle of emotions — proves the perfect setup for the distinctive storytelling language of Ramon and Silvan Zürcher. Sheri Linden, The Hollywood Reporter, 14 Apr. 2022 His controversial past became the setup for his bad boy upstart persona. Steven Monacelli, Rolling Stone, 3 Apr. 2022 An excellent rendition, and the first of many jolts. Starting a show with what would ordinarily be your crescendo — your top hit, the name of the album, the name of this tour — would seem like a setup for letdown. Rory Appleton, The Indianapolis Star, 23 Mar. 2022 This high-pressure pattern that promotes clear skies and warm, dry winter weather also provides the perfect setup for Santa Ana winds. Los Angeles Times, 12 Mar. 2022 Microsoft has decided that anyone installing Windows 11 Pro will need to create a Microsoft Account and have an active internet connection during setup. Matthew Humphries, PCMAG, 18 Feb. 2022 There are some hacky workarounds available, usually involving connecting to and then disconnecting from the Internet during setup, but my experience with these has been hit or miss. Andrew Cunningham, Ars Technica, 17 Feb. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Around the concourse in The Viv, LGBTQ organizations — including Utah Pride Center, Flourish Therapy, and The OUT Foundation — set up tables and talked to concertgoers. Palak Jayswal, The Salt Lake Tribune, 15 May 2022 That certainly could set up to be the case in the AFC West, where the Broncos and Chargers both look like challengers but neither will be widely considered a favorite before the season. Parker Gabriel, USA TODAY, 13 May 2022 Mark White an advocate for Ridgeway, initially set up a GoFundMe to raise $1,000 for James Stinson but has since increased that goal to $25,000. Howard Koplowitz |, al, 13 May 2022 Law enforcement set up surveillance outside the motel and saw Vicky White exiting it. Faith Karimi, CNN, 13 May 2022 The musician set up candles and red roses on the sand, and got down on one knee. Rosa Sanchez, Harper's BAZAAR, 12 May 2022 Rahman recently set up the Firdaus Studio as part of Expo 2020 Dubai and mentored the Firdaus Orchestra, an all-woman ensemble of 50 musicians from 23 Arab countries. Naman Ramachandran, Variety, 11 May 2022 Police have set up a tall fence and blocked off streets this week as people have protested in front of the Supreme Court Building, which is across from the U.S. Capitol. Mary Clare Jalonick And Lisa Mascaro, Chron, 10 May 2022 House Speaker Nancy Pelosi then set up a select committee, which didn’t require a vote to create and Mr. McKinley isn’t a member of it. Joshua Jamerson, WSJ, 10 May 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of setup


1890, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


13th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

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Time Traveler for setup

Time Traveler

The first known use of setup was in the 13th century

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Last Updated

21 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Setup.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 May. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on setup

Nglish: Translation of setup for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of setup for Arabic Speakers


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