set·ting | \ˈse-tiŋ \

Definition of setting 

1 : the manner, position, or direction in which something is set

2 : the frame or bed in which a gem is set also : style of mounting

3a : the time, place, and circumstances in which something occurs or develops

b : the time and place of the action of a literary, dramatic, or cinematic work

c : the scenery used in a theatrical or film production

4 : the music composed for a text (such as a poem)

5 : the articles of tableware for setting a place at table two settings of sterling silver

6 : a batch of eggs for incubation

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

The performers describe their characters, their settings and their histories in the third person. Ben Brantley, New York Times, "Review: ‘The Lehman Trilogy’ Is a Transfixing Epic of Riches and Ruin," 13 July 2018 Because flash cookies do not reside in your browser, and thus your browser settings will not affect them. The Editors, Outside Online, "About Our Ads," 10 July 2018 Once the big event starts, take a few test shots to see how your settings are working. Emily Price, Popular Mechanics, "How to Capture Perfect Fireworks Photos," 3 July 2018 To do so, please go to your device settings and opt-out through the controls provided through Google/Android or iOS, as applicable., "Privacy Policy," 3 July 2018 Wrapping is, in my opinion, non-negotiable with oaks and Chinese pistachios for their first 18 months in their new settings. Neil Sperry, San Antonio Express-News, "What’s the story with morning glories not blooming?," 29 June 2018 Earlier this year, the Breeses had the pink diamonds removed from their settings to prepare them for sale, the lawsuit said. Morgan Cook,, "La Jolla jeweler being sued by football great Drew Brees says Brees acknowledged being 'cash poor'," 27 June 2018 On their 40-acre estate, Joe and Carmen Hall, of Bluebird Farm, advertise a loft rental on AirBnb and offer their attractive rural setting as a meeting place for corporate gatherings, weddings, and other special occasions. Annie Gentile, Courant Community, "Willington Celebrates Farm Day," 21 June 2018 Shooting his spare settings in crisp 35-millimeter images, Jarman gives the tragedy a seriousness and potency that puts Peter Greenaway's Prospero's Books to shame. Patrick Friel, Chicago Reader, "Arts / Film / History / LGBTQ+ / On Video / Television Queer filmmaker Derek Jarman gets a Pride Month retrospective at FilmStruck," 20 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'setting.' 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 setting

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for setting

Last Updated

1 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for setting

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

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More Definitions for setting



English Language Learners Definition of setting

: the place and conditions in which something happens or exists

: the time, place, and conditions in which the action of a book, movie, etc., takes place

: the rooms, painted backgrounds, furniture, etc., that are used for a scene in a movie or play


set·ting | \ˈse-tiŋ\

Kids Definition of setting

1 : the act of someone or something that sets

2 : that in which something is set or mounted a gold setting for a ruby

3 : the background (as time and place) of the action of a story or play

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Comments on setting

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a generally accepted meaning of a word

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