set·​up | \ ˈset-ˌəp How to pronounce setup (audio) \

Definition of setup

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : carriage of the body especially : erect and soldierly bearing
2a : the assembly and arrangement of the tools and apparatus required for the performance of an operation
b : the preparation and adjustment of machines for an assigned task
3a : a table setting
b : glass, ice, and mixer served to patrons who supply their own liquor
4a : a camera position from which a scene is filmed also : the footage taken from one camera position
b : the final arrangement of the scenery and properties for a scene of a theatrical or cinematic production
5a : a position of the balls in billiards or pool from which it is easy to score
b : a task or contest purposely made easy
c : something easy to get or accomplish
d : something (such as a plot) that has been constructed or contrived
e : the execution of a planned scoring play in sports
6a : the manner in which the elements or components of a machine, apparatus, or system are arranged, designed, or assembled
b : the patterns within which political, social, or administrative forces operate : customary or established practice
8 : something done by deceit or trickery in order to compromise or frame someone

set up

set up; setting up; sets up

Definition of set up (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to raise to and place in a high position
b : to place in view : post
c : to put forward (something, such as a plan) for acceptance
2a : to place upright : erect set up a statue
b : to assemble the parts of and erect in position
c : to put (a machine) in readiness or adjustment for an operation
3a : cause, create set up a clamor
4 : to place in power or in office set up the general as dictator
5a : to raise from depression : elate, gratify
b : to make proud or vain
6a : to put forward or extol as a model
b : to claim oneself to be sets himself up as an authority
8a : to provide with means of making a living set him up in business
b : to bring or restore to normal health
c : to cause (one) to take on a soldierly or athletic appearance especially through drill
9 : to erect (a perpendicular or a figure) on a base in a drawing
10a : to make taut (a stay or hawser)
b : to tighten firmly
11 : to make carefully worked out plans for set up a bank robbery
12a : to pay for (drinks)
b : to treat (someone) to something
13a : to put in a compromising or dangerous position usually by trickery or deceit
14 : to execute one or more plays in preparation for scoring

intransitive verb

1 : to come into active operation or use
2 : to begin business
3 : to make pretensions has never set up to be a wise man— Thomas Rogers
4 : to become firm
set up housekeeping
: to establish one's living quarters
set up shop
: to start a business or activity in a particular place

Keep scrolling for more

Setup vs. Set-Up vs. Set Up

The noun setup is usually styled as a solid compound (that is, as a single word) in American English and as a hyphenated compound (set-up) in British English. The noun may be used attributively (that is, as an adjective) in such phrases as setup man (“someone who makes machine tool adjustments”) and setup tool (“software that facilitates the installation of a computer program”). The verb set up, on the other hand, is usually found as an open compound (two words, no hyphen) in both American and British English.

Examples of setup in a Sentence

Noun Setup of the new software is a breeze. It took me a while to learn the setup of the office's filing system. We had a great setup. On my days off, my wife would work from home while I took care of the kids. The software makes it easy to create custom setups. Verb set up tables in the living room for the party set up a scholarship fund for deserving students from the inner city
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun This is the first time one brand has taken the whole setup and transformed it. Kate Bowers, Fortune, "Testing the Luxury Shoe Market With a Salon on Wheels," 16 Sep. 2019 Anyone looking to support the family can do so with an account setup with First National Bank of Whitney. Joe Mario Pedersen,, "10-year-old girl dies after contracting brain-eating amoeba while swimming: report," 16 Sep. 2019 Topics include the setup of new files, processing bank transactions, accounts receivable and accounts payable entries, reconciliation of bank and credit card accounts, and running basic financial reports., "Calendar: Get a glimpse into the world of storm chasing Thursday in Antioch," 15 Sep. 2019 Cornelius offers special themed tent setups in living rooms for kids to sleep in on Christmas Eve, and several families in the area have now made this a tradition over the last few years. Kelsey Ogletree, House Beautiful, "Southern Sleepovers Sets Up the Coolest Slumber Parties at People's Houses," 10 Sep. 2019 With a three-tier stage, and a pair of elevated drumsets, Slipknot's stage setup was second to none. Houston Chronicle, "Slipknot's Knotfest Roadshow ends on high note in Houston," 10 Sep. 2019 But quarterback Matthew Luebbe did enough on Elder's final drive of regulation to setup Sam Harmeyer's 33-yard field goal to force OT. James Weber,, "Week 2 takeaways: Turnarounds continue for Hamilton, Talawanda; Mr. Football showdown," 8 Sep. 2019 Senior defensive end Malcolm Roach was whistled for a 15-yard roughing the passer penalty which helped setup tailback Clye Edwards-Helaire’s 12-yard touchdown run. Nick Moyle,, "Missed opportunities cost Texas chance to make early-season statement," 8 Sep. 2019 To handle these larger setups, engineers developed a slew of tricks. Jesse Dunietz, Popular Mechanics, "The Hidden Science of Elevators," 2 Sep. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The second was set up on a bad punt snap to the Campolindo 1. Mitch Stephens,, "Roundup: McClymonds stuns No. 10 Campolindo with 28 fourth-quarter points," 14 Sep. 2019 Led by running back Tristan Vanderlinde, Dana Hills was set up on the Breakers one, when quarterback Zack Saavedra was intercepted, keeping it scoreless after 12 minutes. Daily Pilot, "Laguna Beach football loses at Dana Hills, suffers first setback," 13 Sep. 2019 Temporary monitoring equipment has already been set up. Washington Post, "Official: Texas violated settlement over hot prisons," 11 Sep. 2019 The move sets up a legal battle between the federal government and the nation's most populous state, which for decades has exercised authority to put in place more stringent fuel economy standards. Anchorage Daily News, "Trump administration moves to revoke California’s power to set stricter auto emissions standards," 17 Sep. 2019 With the help of his father, Daniel, who is a Florida State alum and booster, young Grayton set up a lemonade stand on Sunday to raise funds to replace the Seminoles coach who is 6-9 in 15 games with the program. Khadrice Rollins,, "Four-Year-Old Florida State Fan Sells Lemonade for Willie Taggart's Buyout," 16 Sep. 2019 That set up Pineiro’s field goal to lift the Bears to their first win of the season. Erin Hooley,, "The best photos from the Bears’ dramatic 16-14 win in Week 2 over the Broncos," 16 Sep. 2019 After his second-minute opener, Fati also set up a quick second goal as the hosts routed Valencia, 5-2 . . ., "For USA Basketball, summer ended Saturday with an 87-74 win over Poland in the seventh-place game at the World Cup in Beijing, the lowest finish ever by a US team in a major international tournament.," 15 Sep. 2019 The run will set up QB Jacoby Brissett and the passing game. Chris Wassel, USA TODAY Sportsbook Wire, "Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans odds, picks and best bets [UPDATED]," 15 Sep. 2019

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

See More

First Known Use of setup


1890, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


13th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about setup

Statistics for setup

Last Updated

26 Oct 2019

Time Traveler for setup

The first known use of setup was in the 13th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for setup


How to pronounce set up (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of setup

: the process of making something (such as a machine or computer program) ready to be used
: the way that something is done or organized
informal : a situation in which someone is deliberately put in a bad position or made to look guilty

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on setup

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for setup

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with setup

Spanish Central: Translation of setup

Nglish: Translation of setup for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of setup for Arabic Speakers

Comments on setup

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


the exactly right word or phrasing

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Pass the Little Ribbons: A Pasta Word Quiz

  • rotelle pasta
  • Match the pasta to its meaning in English: Rotelle
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!