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

Keep scrolling for more

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
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The house provides them with a spacious setup, and Wu has ambitions for it. Sarah Medford, WSJ, "The Idiosyncratic Work of Sculptor Alma Allen," 15 Jan. 2020 The stargazing pod requires no setup, and foam mattress and fluffy blankets are included. Scott Craven, azcentral, "Arizona's coolest campsites: How to book an Airstream, a bubble tent or an alpaca farm," 10 Jan. 2020 Another proposition is to use an 8K 3D camera setup, which will allow clients and even filmmakers to skip road or air travel to the studio. Kartik Chandramouli, Quartz India, "Can Indian cinema call lights, camera, climate action?," 1 Jan. 2020 At least a couple dozen workers from a variety of moving, construction, and lighting companies could be seen assisting with the setup, hanging lights, securing wires, and assembling metal barriers., "First Night setup resumes after worker fatality on Saturday - The Boston Globe," 29 Dec. 2019 Successfully completing the class opens the doors to advanced classes and the longer track setups, including a corkscrew-style elevation change and long straightaway. Jeff Yip, Houston Chronicle, "Goodies will give your favorite automotive enthusiast some thrills," 29 Nov. 2019 On Twitter, Lu shared a picture of his team’s experimental setup, a tabletop covered in an intricate pattern of densely packed, gleaming metallic devices. Daniel Garisto, Scientific American, "Quantum Computer Made from Photons Achieves a New Record," 6 Nov. 2019 There’s no imagination within a setup like that, no surprise, no challenge to the status quo. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, "Daniel Sloss Shows How Comedians Should Talk About Rape," 6 Nov. 2019 The system uses a typical Mazda setup (the 124 Spider is based on the MX-5 platform), with a console dial for controls, with a separate volume knob. Scott Sturgis,, "2019 Fiat 124 Spider Abarth makes drivers want to stretch summer," 25 Oct. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb In footage captured by cameras set up by the girl, Becnel could be seen on Dec. 23 grabbing her by the hair and slamming her head against a bed post, according to an arrest report written by Sheriff's Sgt. David K. Li, NBC News, "Florida 14-year-old girl set up camera to prove physical abuse," 15 Jan. 2020 Tens of thousands of people from Batangas and Cavite provinces have sought shelter in 118 temporary evacuation centers set up by authorities. Helen Regan And Jinky Jorgio, CNN, "Desolate images from Taal Volcano show horses and cows buried in ash," 15 Jan. 2020 In 2018, Iran was caught for the first time running a stealthy online disinformation campaign targeting the U.S. Facebook, Google and Twitter shuttered hundreds of accounts and channels set up by people with ties to Iranian state media. Jessica Guynn, USA TODAY, "Facebook information warfare: Inside Iran's shadowy operations to target you on social media," 11 Jan. 2020 In downtown Beirut, just a few blocks away from Carlos Ghosn’s multi-million dollar mansion, smoke billows out of flimsy tents set up by protestors occupying the center of the Lebanese capital. Habib Battah, Fortune, "Prodigal Son or Unwelcome Fugitive? Carlos Ghosn’s Flashy Return to Lebanon Clashes with a Country in Crisis," 9 Jan. 2020 Three plays set up by Seguin (Radulov in Tampa Bay, Jamie Benn in Los Angeles and Radulov in Anaheim). Matthew Defranks, Dallas News, "Stars win 6th straight as power play heats up in 3-0 win over Ducks," 9 Jan. 2020 His number is on his Instagram account, which was set up by a friend. Ananya Bhattacharya, Quartz India, "A Swiggy delivery run, followed by a tweet, gave an artist his day in the sun," 9 Jan. 2020 Today, the charity set up by the family of Tosta’s Party sibling Niko Guardado, for a celebrity bowling tournament. Ariana Romero,, "Party Of Five’s Emily Tosta Came To America Undocumented. Now She’s On Billboards," 8 Jan. 2020 But his interaction with a fake university set up by ICE would lead to his downfall. Niraj Warikoo, Detroit Free Press, "Undercover ICE recordings reveal tactics of fake Farmington University," 7 Jan. 2020

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.

See More

First Known Use of setup


1890, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


13th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about setup

Time Traveler for setup

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for setup

Last Updated

19 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Setup.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 20 January 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


not to be intimidated or subdued

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

The Eponym Quiz

  • rubens painting
  • Which is the best synonym of bowdlerize?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!