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
7 : project, plan
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

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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


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.


set up tables in the living room for the party set up a scholarship fund for deserving students from the inner city
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Nearby, on a dual-screen setup in the basement of his hillside home, Robert Shontell pulls up hundreds of snippets of footage captured by the cameras earlier that day. Los Angeles Times, "Neighbors are using these smart cameras to track strangers’ cars — and yours," 13 Sep. 2019 Our kids slept on a bunk bed setup that’s available as an add-on. Megan Barber, Curbed, "Why this vintage-style camper is the future of travel trailers," 14 Aug. 2019 For the Bulldogs, this is going to be a classic trap-game setup with Auburn and Texas A&M waiting afterward. Gentry Estes, The Courier-Journal, "The SEC East has a chance to be tougher than the SEC West, with Alabama, Georgia leading," 31 July 2019 Pairing that with the Tab S6 will give you a laptop-like setup. CNN Money, "The Galaxy Tab S6 aims to mix productivity and fun in one 10.5-inch Android tablet," 31 July 2019 But once on the website, people were prompted to a page setup for donations. Fox News, "Amanda Knox insists she's not crowdfunding her wedding despite sharing public registry 'accepting donations'," 25 July 2019 On 2500s, Ram uses a relatively supple five-link coil spring setup (or air bags). Ezra Dyer, Popular Mechanics, "The Ram 3500 Is Textbook Outrageous," 22 July 2019 The sleek, black CVS HemoCare machine includes touch-screen controls, a simplified setup that uses fewer supplies and new automated safety features. Bloomberg News,, "CVS looks to enter home dialysis business with help from Segway," 17 July 2019 Such a setup would have one judge assigned to handle the more high-risk domestic violence cases that come before the court. Peter Krouse,, "Domestic violence cases may get special attention in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court," 16 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 Lainie Stephens set up a lemonade stand to help the police get a new K-9. Htv National Desk, Houston Chronicle, "3-year-old donates hundreds from lemonade stand for police K-9," 14 Sep. 2019 The Cougars set up two Edgewater touchdowns with 17- and 10-yard punts. Lynn Ramsey,, "No. 1 Edgewater defeats Tallahassee Godby," 14 Sep. 2019 The first set up the offense’s first scoring drive, providing a short field at BSU’s 31 in the first quarter and a 7-0 lead. Rich Torres,, "John Mitchell (3 TDs) keys Owls’ passing game vs. Ball State," 14 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.

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First Known Use of setup


1890, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


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

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Learn More about setup

Statistics for setup

Last Updated

12 Oct 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for setup

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

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More Definitions for setup



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

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More from Merriam-Webster on setup

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with setup

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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).


to fake an opponent out of position

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