set·​back | \ ˈset-ˌbak How to pronounce setback (audio) \

Definition of setback

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a checking of progress
4 : 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
5 : automatic scheduled adjustment to a lower temperature setting of a thermostat
6 : the distance of a structure or other feature (such as a well or septic system) from the property line or other feature

set back

set back; setting back; sets back

Definition of set back (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

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

Synonyms for setback

Synonyms: Noun

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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: Noun Defeat in either district would have been a setback for the prime minister’s party. Boris Johnson, Fox News, 24 June 2022 Now the world will be watching to see how one of the faces of the Games will respond to the setback. Los Angeles Times, 7 Feb. 2022 The back-to-back losses amounted to a major setback for President Biden, who used a White House news conference during the Senate debate to lament Republicans’ success at thwarting his domestic agenda, including the voting rights measure. Carl Hulse, New York Times, 19 Jan. 2022 Gardner made two impressive punch-out saves and stopped another shot with an extended foot as part of six saves overall that helped send the Tritons (5-1-2) to their first setback of the season. Glae Thien, San Diego Union-Tribune, 30 Dec. 2021 Tough, tough break for the undrafted free agent, who had such a splendid rookie campaign in 2020 but had to deal with former coach Urban Meyer's misplaced ire in 2021 prior to this setback. Nate Davis, USA TODAY, 27 Dec. 2021 Glades Central slipped in the rankings this week following a controversial safety late in the game against visiting Miami Carol City that led to a 20-18 setback. Gary Curreri,, 5 Oct. 2021 Pastore made sure the team had a favorable response to the setback as the Cardinals thoroughly dominated the Dons in the deciding second half. Glenn Graham,, 4 Oct. 2021 On Tuesday the world faced yet another setback in the Wicked stage musical-to-very-lucrative-movie-project saga. Glamour, 26 Apr. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'setback.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of setback


1674, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1600, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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The first known use of setback was in 1600

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Last Updated

29 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Setback.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Jun. 2022.

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More Definitions for setback


set·​back | \ ˈset-ˌbak How to pronounce setback (audio) \

Kids Definition of setback

: a slowing of progress : a temporary defeat Despite several setbacks we finished on schedule.

More from Merriam-Webster on setback

Nglish: Translation of setback for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of setback for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about setback


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