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
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 That's not quite the whole setup for the film, which is based on a 2016 novel by Martha Batalha. Author: Michael O'sullivan, Anchorage Daily News, "Two sisters, separated by a lie, live out lives of longing in Brazil’s Oscar submission," 1 Jan. 2020 Michel’s TD was setup by a 50-yard pass from Brady to Phillip Dorsett along the sideline, his first catch since Week 13. Kyle Hightower, The Denver Post, "Dolphins stun Patriots, denying New England a first-round bye," 29 Dec. 2019 That element of the script, by Mendes and Krysty Wilson-Cairns, is a brilliant setup that reduces a vast and bewildering conflict to the question of a man’s determination to save his brother, a storytelling strategy that recalls Saving Private Ryan. Kyle Smith, National Review, "1917: A Somber Journey into Hell," 25 Dec. 2019 But there was no perfect setup for this situation during the season. Mike Jones, USA TODAY, "From Jay-Z's involvement to Roger Goodell's actions: How Colin Kaepernick's NFL workout materialized and what's next," 14 Nov. 2019 Whether the problem was a setup or not, Dehn’s result upended how mathematicians understood scissors congruence. Quanta Magazine, "Mathematicians Cut Apart Shapes to Find Pieces of Equations," 31 Oct. 2019 Six plays later, Coleman Bennett scored on a 3-yard run that was setup by Troy Stellato's 64-yard reception from Brody Palhegyi. J. Darin Darst,, "First-half big plays on defense vault Cardinal Gibbons by McArthur," 11 Oct. 2019 The Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT) was setup in 2017 by Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube, as a way for the companies to share information about violent terrorist content in order to remove it across platforms. Wire Service, The Mercury News, "Sheryl Sandberg outlines Silicon Valley’s plan to fight online extremism," 24 Sep. 2019 But the armed robbery was a setup orchestrated by an undercover officer, the affidavit claims, as investigators looked to record Weaver and his co-conspirators before ultimately arresting them in the act., "Federal prosecutors say 2017 West Baltimore shooting death was part of a turf war between rival drug dealers," 5 Sep. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Refrigerated storage and transportation are essential for beverages, but most retail and distribution channels aren’t yet set up for it. Esther Mobley,, "The age of cannabis rosé is here. Do the weed wines taste like bong water?," 2 Jan. 2020 Users can set up notifications and alerts on personalized routes, zoom in and out of the map and click on areas to find out more information, department officials said. USA TODAY, "Puppy wins lotto, alligators, mountain lions, Dunkin Donuts wedding: News from around our 50 states," 30 Dec. 2019 Special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on his Russia investigation said the meeting was set up ahead of time with the knowledge of former White House aide Stephen Bannon. Washington Post, "AP Exclusive: Trump ally may have broken Venezuela sanctions," 30 Dec. 2019 Kelley envisions a pilot program for solar arrays could be set up at a couple of sites by early 2020. Robert Higgs, cleveland, "What will top the news from Cleveland City Hall in 2020? Poverty relief, environment and a mayoral race," 29 Dec. 2019 That ruling, along with the growing populations, changing demographics and mostly single party control, sets up Southern states as the most likely territory for partisan gerrymandering, experts said. Jane C. Timm, NBC News, "Gerrymandering is alive and well. The coming battle will be bigger than ever.," 28 Dec. 2019 Old Economy Meets New In 1948, a Kentucky underwear company set up an outpost in the basement of the old Campbellsville armory with five employees. David Streitfeld, New York Times, "Prime Anchor: An Amazon Warehouse Town Dreams of a Better Life," 28 Dec. 2019 Lyra never backs down from a challenge, so the answer is clear, which sets up a season 2 that is based on Pullman’s second novel in his trilogy, The Subtle Knife, a multidimensional romp that expands the story and themes at play. Nick Romano,, "How the His Dark Materials finale sets up the war of the worlds in season 2," 24 Dec. 2019 In his analysis of ToTok for iOS, Wardle found that the app was set up to run continuously in the background. Lily Hay Newman, Wired, "Uninstall This Alleged Emirati Spy App From Your Phone Now," 22 Dec. 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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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

5 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Setup.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 17 January 2020.

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More Definitions for setup


How to pronounce set up (audio)

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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with setup

Spanish Central: Translation of setup

Nglish: Translation of setup for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of setup for Arabic Speakers

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).


a plan in which a last survivor takes all

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