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 Duke fell to 292-9 in nonconference home games under Krzyzewski, and this was the first such loss since an 83-82 setback against St. John’s on Feb. 26, 2000. Washington Post, "Stephen F. Austin stuns No. 1 Duke, 85-83 in OT," 27 Nov. 2019 Epstein expects these two setbacks could cost Boeing a couple of billion dollars more. Chris Isidore, CNN, "Boeing's problems could soon be seen on Wall Street," 27 Nov. 2019 After some physical setbacks, Lenzy has thrived in his role as the No. 3 receiver behind Chase Claypool and Chris Finke and has become a dangerous option on end arounds. Mike Berardino, Indianapolis Star, "'Next Man In' mentality serves Notre Dame well in the face of injuries," 27 Nov. 2019 However, a study published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology notes that people who had an attitude of forgiveness and self-compassion after one high-calorie setback were less likely to give up and keep bingeing. Anchorage Daily News, "6 ways to have a healthy and happy holiday," 26 Nov. 2019 The 11th-year pro scored 24 points on 11-of-19 shooting in Monday’s 114-104 loss to the Lakers, the Spurs’ ninth setback in their last 10 games. Tom Orsborn,, "DeMar DeRozan stays positive in San Antonio Spurs’ tough times," 26 Nov. 2019 The rhetoric and institutional setbacks are documented in detail in a recent paper that I co-authored. Herton Escobar, Science | AAAS, "Brazil’s deforestation is exploding—and 2020 will be worse," 22 Nov. 2019 Two other Lovejoy setbacks came against Trophy Club Nelson (48-2), the No. Ted Dunnam, Houston Chronicle, "State volleyball: Friendswood eyes upset of talented Lucas Lovejoy," 21 Nov. 2019 Wyoming was the poll’s biggest tumbler after a second straight road defeat over the weekend — a 26-21 setback to No. Sean Keeler, The Denver Post, "Best of the West Top 25: CU Buffs and CSU Rams are on cusp of wrong type of history," 18 Nov. 2019

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

30 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Setback.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 7 December 2019.

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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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