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 Trials and sandbox environments can still require significant setup and engineering hours before a prospect can first visualize the value. Frederick Daso, Forbes, "Navattic Raises $1.2M To Augment The Modern Sales Stack," 6 May 2021 Installation is peel-and-stick easy and setup of the system through the mobile app is straightforward. Dan Diclerico, Good Housekeeping, "Best Smart Home Devices of 2021," 3 May 2021 Shoppers are big fans of the hassle-free delivery and setup process, too. Andrea Marie,, "This Chic Under-$200 Chair on Amazon Is Built to Last—and Reviewers Are Saying '10/10 Would Buy Again'," 28 Apr. 2021 The original Peloton Bike, which rolled out in 2014, cost $2,245 but could be financed for $49 per month, including setup and delivery. Abby Ellin, Town & Country, "SoulCycle and the Wild Ride," 27 Apr. 2021 And last week, more than 350 researchers criticized the studies in a letter that complained of a lack of peer review, an intransparent setup, and ethical failings. Jop De Vrieze, Science | AAAS, "Get your coronavirus test, join the party: Experimental mass events in the Netherlands draw fire," 27 Apr. 2021 That setup and the tactics used by Operation Safety Net partners in Brooklyn Center following Wright's killing worry some Minneapolis City Council members. Liz Navratil, Star Tribune, "Minneapolis chief: Each agency has own standards for use of tear gas and projectiles to control crowds," 15 Apr. 2021 Delivery and setup are free, although contactless delivery in these COVID-19 days is also available. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Next-gen furniture rentals deliver curated style with sustainability," 10 Apr. 2021 However, coach Ryan Day utilized a lot of two tight-end alignments with the base offense, thanks to having a 1a/1b setup with Ruckert and Luke Farrell and a strong third option in Jake Hausmann. Nathan Baird, cleveland, "Ohio State football’s Cade Stover has a home, and the Buckeyes need him to make the most of it," 1 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Facebook set up the oversight panel to rule on thorny issues about content on its platforms, in response to widespread criticism about its inability to respond swiftly and effectively to misinformation, hate speech and nefarious influence campaigns. NBC News, "Facebook oversight board to rule on suspended Trump account on May 5," 3 May 2021 About 110 exhibitors set up their booths at the 2019 expo. Linda Gandee, cleveland, "Rocky River Chamber of Commerce gears up for business expo, city planting day," 3 May 2021 That set up only the second piloted water landing for NASA's post-shuttle commercial crew program and just the third night splashdown in space history — the first in nearly 45 years. William Harwood, CBS News, "SpaceX Crew Dragon astronauts arrive home with rare pre-dawn splashdown in Gulf of Mexico," 3 May 2021 Facebook set up the oversight panel to rule on thorny issues about content on its platforms, in response to widespread criticism about its inability to respond swiftly and effectively to misinformation, hate speech and nefarious influence campaigns., "Facebook oversight board to rule on suspended Trump account," 3 May 2021 Under the plans, dozens of tents, live music and portable breweries would be set up in Dubai, while celebrities would be flown in as headline guests, Bild reported. Rob Picheta, CNN, "Munich reassures Germans that Oktoberfest won't be moving to Dubai," 2 May 2021 To avert such an outcome, the Coast Guard this time set up an 11.5-mile safety zone around splashdown site and chase away any interlopers. Reviewing the risk from space debris. New York Times, "SpaceX Makes First Nighttime Splashdown With Astronauts Since 1968," 2 May 2021 Darby’s indictment set up a public feud between the county prosecutor and city leaders. Ashley Remkus |, al, "Trial begins this week for Huntsville police officer charged with murder of mentally ill man," 2 May 2021 Biden set up an advisory council on environmental justice and directed federal agencies to develop programs to address the impact of climate change on disadvantaged communities. USA Today, "How President Biden confronted racism and injustice in his first 100 days," 1 May 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

9 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Setup.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 May. 2021.

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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

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

Comments on setup

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