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 Democracy drift The third post-1989 decade has been marked by many democratic setbacks, within and among African countries. John J Stremlau, Quartz Africa, "The fall of the Berlin Wall 30 years ago still resonates across Africa," 8 Nov. 2019 Bradford, who caught 56 passes for 649 yards last season, broke his foot last spring and had surgery, then had a setback during the summer. oregonlive, "Oregon State senior Trevon Bradford looking forward to a four-game redshirt season, and a return in 2020," 23 Oct. 2019 Stills participated fully all week and had no setbacks. Aaron Wilson, Houston Chronicle, "Active for Texans: Johnathan Joseph, Tashaun Gipson, Kenny Stills," 20 Oct. 2019 The process of finding a new property to purchase and raising the initial funds was filled with messy politics and unexpected setbacks, which Bangerd described in an impromptu history lesson. Catalina Righter,, "Westminster fire company celebrates final loan payment on ‘new’ station," 3 Oct. 2019 Bengals head coach Zac Taylor has said that Green has not had any setback in his recovery and is making progress to return to the field. Scooby Axson,, "Bengals WR A.J. Green (Ankle) Out vs. Steelers," 30 Sep. 2019 The Eagles have lost two in a row, including last week’s 12-7 setback against Ocean View, and are averaging just 8.5 points per game this season. Matt Szabo, Daily Pilot, "Week 5 High School Football Preview: Estancia vs. Laguna Beach," 26 Sep. 2019 Although the surveys are separate for elementary and secondary students, the questionnaire covers similar issues, such as a student’s ability to bounce back from a setback, growth mindset and teacher-student relationships. Andrew J. Campa, Glendale News-Press, "Majority of Glendale Unified secondary students surveyed lack sense of belonging," 21 Aug. 2019 Other setbacks that might be insurmountable to less intrepid competitors are his sports injuries. Ramona Sentinel, "Denney has high hopes of winning motorcycle contest," 15 Aug. 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

16 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).


to engage in dissolute behavior

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