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 Improper monitoring or setup can lead to microorganism or algae growth and the spread of disease. Angela Watson,, "How to start a hydroponic garden," 26 Mar. 2021 Oakland, which reached the playoffs with 97-win teams in 2018 and 2019, and won the division in 2020, lost shortstop Marcus Semien, second baseman Tommy La Stella, closer Liam Hendriks and setup man Joakim Soria to free agency. Mike Digiovanna, Los Angeles Times, "AL West preview: Shohei Ohtani is the Angels’ X-factor in eclipsing Astros and A’s," 26 Mar. 2021 However, their first-floor unit still ticked a lot of boxes, Sweig said, with perks like an in-unit laundry setup and a patio for gardening and grilling., "Downsizing in a pandemic," 21 Mar. 2021 What were your first impressions of the setup and people at SNL? Donald Liebenson, Vulture, "Laraine Newman Highly Recommends Having a Game Plan," 11 Mar. 2021 While other branches may not have the reading-room setup and furniture, many will still offer free Wi-Fi outdoors, officials added. Charles Passy, WSJ, "Brooklyn Public Library Brings Reading Rooms Outdoors," 10 Mar. 2021 Officials met Friday to develop plans for site setup and operations. Greg Bluestein, ajc, "A look at major COVID-19 developments over the past week," 6 Mar. 2021 DreamSky’s tiny clock is another great bet, thanks to its bright, clear display and simple setup. Julianne Ross, CNN Underscored, "These are the 20 Amazon products we loved in February," 3 Mar. 2021 The physical setup of the scoreboard and catwalk directly adjacent to the uprights in this endzone of the Kibbie Dome create unique conditions when determining whether a kick is a good. Mark Heim |, al, "Big Sky apologizes after official ‘missed’ Eastern Washington field goal against Idaho," 1 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The store vaccination sites tend to be near major population centers, with plenty of parking and accessible, open spaces where officials can set up vaccination stations and design a flow of traffic, said Kane County board chair Corinne Pierog. Lauren Zumbach,, "From checkout lines to vaccine lines: Vacant big-box stores get new life as mass vaccination sites," 9 Apr. 2021 The videos were originally gathered as part of an earlier project Facebook participated in called the Deepfake Detection Challenge, which was set up to accelerate research for detecting and preventing manipulated media. John Mccormick, WSJ, "Facebook Dataset Addresses Algorithmic Bias," 8 Apr. 2021 The rental aid is administered by state and local governments that set up their own application systems and parameters. Author: Heather Long, Anchorage Daily News, "The US government approved trillions in aid. Many hard-hit families have yet to receive it.," 7 Apr. 2021 Four opponents were dispatched with relative ease as UNLV reached the Final Four, which set up a rematch with Duke in the national semifinals. Erick Smith, USA TODAY, "2021 Gonzaga Bulldogs among seven best men's basketball teams without NCAA Tournament title," 6 Apr. 2021 In an area with a high unemployment and poverty rate, when gas and oil companies come knocking with contracts to set up fracking operations on people’s lands, saying no to the upfront cash is a tough sell. Nick Martin, The New Republic, "Kick the Fracking Industry Out of Indian Country," 6 Apr. 2021 Mond figures to be a second-day selection, which could set up well for the Patriots, who don’t figure to be players for the top five quarterbacks., "2021 NFL Draft: Quarterback prospects to know," 6 Apr. 2021 As a matter of fact, the Roam is by far the simplest Sonos speaker to set up thanks to the addition of NFC. Zach Epstein, BGR, "Sonos Roam review: Portable perfection," 6 Apr. 2021 That was a devastating blow, because orchards take a long time to set up, as the trees need time to mature. Jesse Klein, Wired, "Reforestation Is Great! But We're Running Out of Seeds," 6 Apr. 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

3 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Setup.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Apr. 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

Comments on setup

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