set·up | \ ˈset-ˌəp \

Definition of setup 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : carriage of the body especially : erect and soldierly bearing

b : constitution, makeup

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


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

b : bring about

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

b : frame sense 3

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

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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


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.


set up tables in the living room for the party set up a scholarship fund for deserving students from the inner city
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Since Khloé Kardashian welcomed her daughter on April 12, the new mom has given multiple peeks into her nursery setups. Jen Juneau,, "Khloé Kardashian Gives a Peek Into Daughter True's Calabasas Nursery (Check Out the Neon Sign!)," 9 July 2018 Last month, his team installed a new experimental setup on the International Space Station, called the Cold Atom Laboratory, which will make Bose-Einstein condensates in microgravity for years. Sophia Chen, WIRED, "The Quest to Make Super Cold Quantum Blobs in Space," 25 June 2018 The new setup was first used in an Xfinity race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year. Mike Hembree, USA TODAY, "NASCAR will not use All-Star plate package in another Cup race this season," 21 June 2018 Even with his simple setup, Dess delivered an enticingly eerie performance that sounded as good, if not better, than the record itself. Rita Thompson, Billboard, "Two Feet Puts on Hypnotizing Performance of 'I Feel Like I'm Drowning' on 'The Late Show': Watch," 21 June 2018 The new setup affords observers a 360-degree view of the Emerald City from 500 feet in the air. Christine Clarridge, The Seattle Times, "First look: Space Needle unveils nearly complete glass observation deck," 25 May 2018 Under the new setup, the old power-point system will count for 40 percent of a team’s ranking and the Born Power Index will count for 60 percent. Phil Anastasia,, "NJSIAA moves forward with big plans for changes in football playoffs," 11 Apr. 2018 The new setup aims to leverage Microsoft’s strongest businesses, like its Azure cloud service and Office 365 subscription software, while Windows gets deemphasized. Aaron Pressman, Fortune, "Why Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella Is Tearing Up the Windows Business," 29 Mar. 2018 At least two creators are even trying to revive one of their own shows with a new setup. Michael O'connell, The Hollywood Reporter, "The New Economics of TV's Reboot Craze," 21 Feb. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

At the time, the approach was bold and creator-friendly, opening an exciting new avenue for showrunners who were looking to set up their projects. Bryan Bishop, The Verge, "AT&T plans to expand HBO, but could destroy it in the process," 11 July 2018 The customers' accounts later were used to set up new Amazon accounts as well as accounts at, a service that facilitates the purchase of virtual currencies like Bitcoin, according to KrebsOnSecurity report earlier this year. Susan Tompor, Detroit Free Press, "Amazon Prime Day: Gift cards, coupons and other scams to watch for," 14 July 2018 Many of the best points came in the tiebreaker, including a 23-shot rally that Nadal finished off with a forehand half-volley drop shot to set up his first set point. Mattias Karen,, "Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal to finish their Wimbledon semifinal Saturday," 13 July 2018 Other options mooted have included setting up tent cities in the nearby desert, which would offer an economical sense of adventure, if not ultimate luxury. Martin Rogers, USA TODAY, "Qatar is the World Cup every fan should attend," 13 July 2018 District officials also proposed setting up a library lending program with 20-40 computing devices with mobile Internet hotspots per 1,000 students. Kristi Nix, Houston Chronicle, "Fort Bend ISD officials propose $178 million technology package for not-yet-approved school bond election," 13 July 2018 Cities that have tried to set up their own utility know how expensive the process can be. Justin Worland/pueblo, Time, "How One Industrial City Is Fighting to Go Green," 12 July 2018 The Bee examined menus from each of the 68 booths scheduled to set up throughout Cal Expo from July 13-29 to find the 20 craziest concoctions. Benjy Egel, sacbee, "Chew on this: These are the 20 wildest foods for sale at this year’s State Fair," 12 July 2018 In the interim, providers are using specialists in rural development and microfinance to teach people how to set up businesses that benefit from a lot of power (see Finance section). The Economist, "Mini-grids may be the best way to illuminate the “bottom billion”," 12 July 2018

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.

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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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Statistics for setup

Last Updated

14 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for setup

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

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More Definitions for setup



English Language Learners Definition of setup

: the process of making something (such as a machine or computer program) ready to be used

: the way that something is done or organized

: a situation in which someone is deliberately put in a bad position or made to look guilty

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Comments on setup

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


to make amends

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