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


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

Davis began the year as manager Ned Yost’s eighth inning setup man but replaced Proven Closer Greg Holland when Holland was injured. Tom Verducci,, "The Slow Death of the Proven Closer," 5 June 2019 Changes to the current setup could cause additional costs of several hundred million euros, said Karl-Peter Horstmann, head of markets regulation at the RWE unit. Nina Trentmann, WSJ, "European Firms Mull Moving Financial Contracts as Brexit Looms," 16 Oct. 2018 Musk also considered one follower’s suggestion to add a music player to the setup. Wendy Dent, WIRED, "The Engineering Behind Elon Musk's Bid to Save Thailand's Cave Boys," 11 July 2018 Malone was in the air for about 45 minutes when her parachute broke, according to a GoFundMe page setup to help pay for her medical expenses. Ryan Gaydos, Fox News, "California model involved in grisly parasailing accident in Mexico returns to US," 28 June 2018 The setup looks like some sort of intergalactic spaceship. Michael Sundius, Billboard, "Inside The Glitch Mob's Innovative Blade 2.0 Stage: Exclusive Interview," 31 May 2018 The setup initially looks to offer some offbeat possibilities for a story set in such violent circumstances. Todd Mccarthy, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Buy Me a Gun': Film Review | Cannes 2018," 14 May 2018 May is meant to meet her ministers on Tuesday to thrash out what the future customs setup should look like. Emma Ross-thomas,, "Brexit Bulletin: Do You Trust Her?," 14 May 2018 The setup is similar to how Will and Harry will likely function when William is the Prince of Wales. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "What It Really Means that Prince Harry and Prince William's Royal Households Are Splitting," 15 Mar. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

McDermott will set up a new office with Saipem in Milan, Italy to help lead the Mozambique project. Jordan Blum, Houston Chronicle, "McDermott JV wins construction contract for Mozambique LNG," 5 June 2019 Lin sets up his central couple to inhabit the most impossible situation: different worlds, complicated previous relationships. kids, opposite professional sides. all that stuff. Chris Jones,, "'Life on Paper' by Jackalope Theatre builds a very human story from the numbers," 5 June 2019 This race sets up to be tilted more toward late runners. Gentry Estes, The Courier-Journal, "Handicapping the Belmont Stakes 2019: Tacitus is a worthy favorite," 5 June 2019 After their brother’s killing, the Francke brothers set up a reward fund for information leading to an arrest in his death., "Brothers of slain Oregon prisons chief start fundraiser for Frank Gable as he prepares for release from prison," 4 June 2019 Officers immediately set up a perimeter and were able to capture Nix in the woods near his home. Carol Robinson |,, "Convicted robber back behind bars in Sylacauga credit union holdup with shots fired," 3 June 2019 Fans should set up shop near one of those greens and wait for a train wreck or two among dozens of birdies. Tad Reeve, Twin Cities, "Tad Reeve: Can TPC Twin Cities stand up to PGA Tour’s best at 3M Open?," 3 June 2019 The play set up the game-winning field goal that sent the Rams to the Super Bowl. Gary Klein,, "Dante Fowler ready to prove his worth to the Rams in ‘show-me’ season," 3 June 2019 Though Clifford's revealed as his killer at the end of Season 1, Clifford set up Mustang's death to look like a suicide by drug overdose. Jasmine Gomez, Seventeen, "Every "Riverdale" Character That's Been Killed Off," 10 May 2019

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

8 Jun 2019

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
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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with setup

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for setup

Spanish Central: Translation of setup

Nglish: Translation of setup for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of setup for Arabic Speakers

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