set·​ting ˈse-tiŋ How to pronounce setting (audio)
: the manner, position, or direction in which something is set
: the frame or bed in which a gem is set
also : style of mounting
: the time, place, and circumstances in which something occurs or develops
: the time and place of the action of a literary, dramatic, or cinematic work
: the scenery used in a theatrical or film production
: the music composed for a text (such as a poem)
: the articles of tableware for setting a place at table
two settings of sterling silver
: a batch of eggs for incubation
Choose the Right Synonym for setting

background, setting, environment, milieu, mise-en-scène mean the place, time, and circumstances in which something occurs.

background often refers to the circumstances or events that precede a phenomenon or development.

the shocking decision was part of the background of the riots

setting suggests looking at real-life situations in literary or dramatic terms.

a militant reformer who was born into an unlikely social setting

environment applies to all the external factors that have a formative influence on one's physical, mental, or moral development.

the kind of environment that produces juvenile delinquents

milieu applies especially to the physical and social surroundings of a person or group of persons.

an intellectual milieu conducive to artistic experimentation

mise-en-scène strongly suggests the use of properties to achieve a particular atmosphere or theatrical effect.

a gothic thriller with a carefully crafted mise-en-scène

Examples of setting in a Sentence

This would be a beautiful setting for a picnic. He tends to be shy in social settings. dining in a casual setting The movie changes the play's setting from the late 18th century to the year 2000. She uses modern-day Los Angeles as the setting for her book. Save money by turning the temperature settings up in the summer and down in the winter. She just learned how to change the settings on her camera. See More
Recent Examples on the Web Osborn said Core's support and the chance to work out the particulars of the device in a real-world setting was a key component in creating the technology. John Magsam, Arkansas Online, 10 Sep. 2023 The menu features premium steaks and seafood, but the setting is the real selling point. Lydia Mansel, Travel + Leisure, 9 Sep. 2023 Hildebrandt’s attorney, Douglas Terry, filed a motion Friday requesting a special setting to discuss Hildebrandt’s detention status, citing her medical issue. Jordan Miller, The Salt Lake Tribune, 9 Sep. 2023 Students new to a school community can check opportunities at orientation and meet-and-greets or other non-academic settings. Ana Homayoun, Washington Post, 8 Sep. 2023 The setting will be familiar for new Notre Dame QB Sam Hartman, who went 2-2 against the Wolfpack at Wake Forest but with neither win coming in Raleigh. N.C. USA TODAY, 8 Sep. 2023 The slow cook function has three temperature settings: high, low, and simmer. Carrie Honaker, Southern Living, 8 Sep. 2023 Rory and Lorelai’s lives offer more than just quirky hometown characters, book recommendations, and nostalgic fashion inspiration—you’re forgetting about all of the beautiful settings the show has to offer. Abby Wilson, Better Homes & Gardens, 7 Sep. 2023 Unlike Justified, where Harlan, Kentucky is the center, with Timothy Olyphant’s Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens dishing out his own unique blend of tough justice, Detroit is the setting for this FX offshoot. Ronda Racha Penrice, The Hollywood Reporter, 29 Aug. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'setting.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of setting was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near setting

Cite this Entry

“Setting.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


: the manner, position, or direction in which something is set
change a thermostat setting
: a frame or holder in which something is mounted
a setting for a diamond
: the background (as time and place) of the action of a story or performance
: the articles of tableware required for setting a place at table
two settings of silver
: a batch of eggs for hatching

More from Merriam-Webster on setting

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