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

Despite the high-tech, ultramodern aesthetic—and as a kind of antidote to it—the couple also wanted to embrace their love of outdoors and the home’s rural setting. Candace Taylor, WSJ, "A Silicon Valley Retreat Where ‘Star Trek’ Meets ‘Star Wars’," 6 Dec. 2018 The shoots are a study in easy intimacy; Leibovitz photographed the couple in a dreamy pastoral setting, and Brahms captured the newlyweds in motion, holding hands and leaning in for a kiss. Vogue, "Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas Are Married—And the Newlyweds Are the Stars of Vogue’s First Digital Cover," 1 Dec. 2018 As pointed out by Variety, the film's realistic setting will reportedly be created with a combination of live-action and CGI. Lauren Rearick, Teen Vogue, "Disney Debuted the Trailer for "The Lion King" Live-Action Movie," 22 Nov. 2018 And that's understandable, because who would want to risk getting foundation caked around the gems' settings? Marci Robin, Allure, "We Talked to Artis About Those $25,000 Diamond-Encrusted Makeup Brushes It Just Launched," 12 Nov. 2018 As for the show itself, Jeremy Scott transformed the venue into its own Times Square-esque setting complete with billboards, flashing lights, and street carts serving New York classics like hot dogs, falafel, and giant soft pretzels. Lauren Alexis Fisher, Harper's BAZAAR, "Naomi Campbell Epically Closed the Moschino x H&M Runway," 25 Oct. 2018 Each episode of Matthew Weiner's anthology series The Romanoffs takes its audience to a new setting with an entirely new cast, and in some cases, into a new television genre. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "Christina Hendricks Reflects on Her Romanoffs' Character's Shocking Death," 20 Oct. 2018 With its sequinned collar and waistband, the evening style had just the right amount of glitz while remaining appropriate for the setting. Christian Allaire, Vogue, "Brigitte Macron and Queen Mathilde of Belgium Do the Black Dress Two Different Ways," 21 Nov. 2018 That's the only setting fitting enough for Lopez's seismic talent, which continues to be ignored. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "I'm Confused Why Maroon 5 Is Doing the Super Bowl Halftime Show and Jennifer Lopez Isn't," 19 Sep. 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

10 Dec 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

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


to enclose within walls

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