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set·​back ˈset-ˌbak How to pronounce setback (audio)
: a checking of progress
: a placing of a face of a building on a line some distance to the rear of the building line or of the wall below
also : the area produced by a setback
: automatic scheduled adjustment to a lower temperature setting of a thermostat
: the distance of a structure or other feature (such as a well or septic system) from the property line or other feature

set back

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set back; setting back; sets back

transitive verb

: to slow the progress of : hinder, delay
: cost
a new suit will set you back $200

Examples of setback in a Sentence

Noun Despite some early setbacks, they eventually became a successful company. the colonists persevered despite suffering setbacks that would have discouraged lesser souls
Recent Examples on the Web
After years of delays, Boeing’s Starliner capsule was set to take off early this month with two astronauts aboard — and now the flight to the International Space Station has been put on hold indefinitely following a series of setbacks. Laurence Darmiento, Los Angeles Times, 22 May 2024 The latest delay was a familiar setback for the hard-luck Starliner, which has suffered a steady stream of frustrating complications since an initial unpiloted test flight in 2019 was derailed by software problems and communications glitches. William Harwood, CBS News, 21 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for setback 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'setback.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use


1674, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1600, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of setback was in 1600

Dictionary Entries Near setback

Cite this Entry

“Setback.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


set·​back ˈset-ˌbak How to pronounce setback (audio)
: a slowing of progress : a temporary defeat

More from Merriam-Webster on setback

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