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 The action was a setback for the Trump administration, which had sought to reinstate a 20-year-old policy following lower court rejections. Richard Wolf, USA TODAY, "Supreme Court, amid pandemic, temporarily lets women get abortion pills without doctor visits," 9 Oct. 2020 The pandemic is a new setback for women in academia who already faced obstacles on the path to advancing their research and careers. Jillian Kramer, New York Times, "The Virus Moved Female Faculty to the Brink. Will Universities Help?," 6 Oct. 2020 Tesla’s struggles with the Model 3 were a setback to that thesis, but Tesla has forged ahead with streamlining battery production under the code name Project Roadrunner, and the potential benefits are huge. David Z. Morris, Fortune, "What Tesla’s Battery Day might reveal: Project Roadrunner, Model S Plaid, and more," 21 Sep. 2020 That was a serious setback to American video game manufacturing, said Laine Nooney, assistant professor and historian of video games at New York University. Shannon Liao, CNN, "The surprising reason Nintendo made Super Mario a plumber 35 years ago," 14 Sep. 2020 The injury was a setback, sure, but Mark-Antony Richards was motivated to come back stronger. Tom Green |, al, "Auburn’s Mark-Antony Richards wants to finish what his brother Ahmmon started," 2 Sep. 2020 That would have been a setback for Ms. Ramnauth, who had just returned to the work force. Michael Corkery, New York Times, "As School Begins, Mothers Working Retail Jobs Feel Extra Burden," 21 Sep. 2020 Taken together, the two statements were a significant setback for the county, which resolved Tuesday to ask the state to remove SDSU cases from the overall counts used to determine the local seven-day average case rate per 100,000 residents. Paul Sisson, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Governor pans San Diego proposal to excise SDSU from tier calculations," 16 Sep. 2020 The fear now is that the current rhetoric around an actor’s alleged weed consumption, shown in the light of a ghastly addiction, could be a setback for the legalisation debate in India. Manavi Kapur, Quartz India, "How did marijuana become illegal in India?," 11 Sep. 2020

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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Time Traveler for setback

Time Traveler

The first known use of setback was in 1600

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Statistics for setback

Last Updated

14 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Setback.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Oct. 2020.

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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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