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

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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 Still, even a temporary ban on recreational sales in Naperville could be a setback for GTI, which has operated a medical marijuana dispensary in the suburb since 2015. Ally Marotti,, "Naperville bans recreational weed sales, throwing into question one of the first licenses awarded by the state," 4 Sep. 2019 Perry's defeat is a setback for those seeking to boost the number of Republican women in the House. Fox News, "Murphy wins North Carolina GOP congressional primary runoff in boost for House Freedom Caucus," 10 July 2019 Lizards, snakes, mammals and more suffered their own setbacks. Riley Black, Smithsonian, "What Happened the Day a Giant, Dinosaur-Killing Asteroid Hit the Earth," 9 Sep. 2019 His career setback in Chicago shook his confidence and made him work even harder. Sarah Ellison, Washington Post, "Lester Holt’s path from country music DJ to the most powerful perch in news," 6 Sep. 2019 CdM was swept in singles and lost 11-7, its first setback of the season. Matt Szabo, Daily Pilot, "Corona del Mar girls’ tennis loses to Campbell Hall, suffers first setback," 5 Sep. 2019 The early signs from this season indicate a similar trend, as the side stumbled to an unconvincing opening day win against Aston Villa prior to their setback this weekend., "Harry Kane Calls on Tottenham to Improve After Expressing Concern Over Liverpool & Man City Starts," 27 Aug. 2019 Federal courts have handed his administration setbacks and defeats at a torrid pace. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "Trump Is on the Right Side of the Law, for Once," 8 Aug. 2019 Frustrated at her latest setback, the long-sober Pennsatucky returns to her former habits and overdoses in the penultimate episode. Bethonie Butler,, "So, you stopped watching ‘Orange Is the New Black’ three seasons ago? Here’s how it ends," 27 July 2019

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.

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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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Statistics for setback

Last Updated

2 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for setback

The first known use of setback was in 1600

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More Definitions for setback


How to pronounce set back (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of setback

: a problem that makes progress more difficult or success less likely


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.

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Comments on setback

What made you want to look up setback? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a calculated move

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