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

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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

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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The stage setup featured 40-foot mirrors with a lighting system that would reflect onto the band members. Troy L. Smith, cleveland, "From Akron to NYC: Rolling Stones brought bedlam and brilliance to America in 1972," 21 Feb. 2021 The favorable setup for earnings could help pave another six months of relatively smooth runway for stocks, even though U.S. equities carry lofty valuations using traditional methods. Ben Marks And Brett Angel, Star Tribune, "It's easy to forget given other noise, but earnings still matter," 20 Feb. 2021 The 522-hp dual-motor setup from the Taycan 4S is the most likely candidate for the Cross Turismo's base powertrain, with 670-hp Turbo and 750-hp Turbo S models set to join the lineup as well. Joey Capparella, Car and Driver, "Porsche Confirms Taycan Cross Turismo Wagon Coming Soon," 19 Feb. 2021 In 2020, the setup for that party coincided with a dawning realization among the public that the COVID-19 pandemic had arrived in Alabama and things were going to have to change. al, "Mobile institution Callaghan’s closing for St. Patrick’s Day this year," 19 Feb. 2021 But the union’s negotiators argue the current setup is needed as a check on potential overreach by McManus and as due process for officers to contest their punishment. Joshua Fechter, San Antonio Express-News, "Talks begin over new contract for San Antonio police amid calls for reform, upcoming vote on bargaining rights," 12 Feb. 2021 Because of the essential setup of the date, Matt and Katie see Tyler in his skintight underwear before the massage begins. Ariana Romero,, "Sorry To Burst Your Bubble — That “Fun” Bachelor Prank Was Actually Pretty Gross," 9 Feb. 2021 Flores is a defensive coach and has not announced who will call plays and how the co-coordinator setup will work. Ben Volin,, "Leftover story lines for the Super Bowl," 6 Feb. 2021 Realism takes a backseat to romance and crowd-pleasing sentiment in Wayne Kramer’s directorial debut, and the followthrough isn’t as entertaining as the setup. Tim Grierson, Vulture, "The 25 Best Movies About Gambling," 5 Feb. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb On Thursday, two large cranes towered over the school buildings as workers set up equipment below. Steve Annear,, "Yale banners and signs pop up near Harvard Square for George Clooney film ‘The Tender Bar’," 4 Mar. 2021 Kohl's will have to do anyway to set up the Sephora shops so that customers don't just come into Sephora and leave without perusing the rest of the Kohl's. Phil Wahba, Fortune, "Kohl’s CEO gets small assist in fight with activists, thanks to Amazon partnership," 3 Mar. 2021 Northern Virginia emerged as the world’s cloud valley even before Amazon Web Services first set up shop there in 2006 due to attractive land prices and low-cost electricity. Nina Bambysheva, Forbes, "Why Amazon’s Ethereum Support Funnels Through Northern Virginia," 3 Mar. 2021 Manyika said this was deliberate because the commission, which met in public, was not set up to hammer out legislative proposals. Margot Roosevelt, Los Angeles Times, "Californians need higher wages and better jobs, Newsom commission says," 2 Mar. 2021 According to the news release, biologists and volunteers monitor where the falcons set up nests, and the cliffs without any nesting activity will reopen to climbing likely by late April or early May. Rebekah Wahlberg, The Salt Lake Tribune, "Zion National Park closes climbing routes where falcons often nest," 1 Mar. 2021 On what proved to be the game-winning drive in the fourth quarter, Habibi-Likio carried the ball four consecutive times for 22 yards to set up a five-yard touchdown pass from Justin Herbert to Jaylon Redd. oregonlive, "Cyrus Habibi-Likio’s conundrum: Former Oregon Ducks running back’s decision to transfer was ‘super tough’," 27 Feb. 2021 Children played at the pacification centers set up to keep them amused while the parent did some business. Star Tribune, "Lileks: A double sawbuck to get into a mall?," 26 Feb. 2021 Bowness used his timeout with 59 seconds remaining as the Stars set up their 6 on 5 offense, after Florida already led 3-2. Matthew Defranks, Dallas News, "The Stars’ disastrous, third-period collapse vs. Panthers leaves head coach Rick Bowness pleading for ‘some ownership’," 25 Feb. 2021

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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Time Traveler for setup

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for setup

Last Updated

26 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Setup.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Mar. 2021.

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on setup

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for setup

Nglish: Translation of setup for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of setup for Arabic Speakers

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