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

Noun 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. Verb 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 Milwaukee is playing this series without setup man Devin Williams and left-handed reliever Brent Suter. Steve Megargee, ajc, 9 Oct. 2021 The Brewers are playing this series without setup man Devin Williams and left-handed reliever Brent Suter. Steve Megargee,, 9 Oct. 2021 Brewers lefthander Brent Suter will sit out the NLDS against the Atlanta Braves with a right oblique strain, another setback for a bullpen already missing setup man Devin Williams., 9 Oct. 2021 Getting started is so simple that the hardest part of my setup process was finding an open outlet to plug the cord into. Hunter Fenollol, Popular Mechanics, 7 Oct. 2021 From cameo to Camilo Remember Francisco Rodriguez, the hard-throwing 20-year-old with the knee-buckling slider who was called up by the Angels in September 2002 and morphed into a dominant setup man during the team’s World Series run? Los Angeles Times, 7 Oct. 2021 Ownership chose to lower player payroll last winter, so the Reds traded closer Raisel Iglesias and released setup man Archie Bradley. Bobby Nightengale, The Enquirer, 3 Oct. 2021 The journeyman right-hander was needed in St. Louis immediately after it was learned setup man Devin Williams had fractured his pitching hand punching a wall in an off-field incident and needed surgery. Tom Haudricourt, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 2 Oct. 2021 The Milwaukee Brewers' postseason chances took a huge hit Wednesday, when it was learned that setup man Devin Williams will have to undergo surgery on his fractured right throwing hand. Todd Rosiak, USA TODAY, 29 Sep. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb When Bay Area software startup Groove set up a satellite location in San Diego roughly two years ago, Chief Executive Chris Rothstein envisioned it as just a sales shop. Mike Freeman, San Diego Union-Tribune, 18 Oct. 2021 Nikoloz Basilashvili beat American Taylor Fritz 7-6 (5), 6-3 on Saturday to set up a final against Cameron Norrie at the BNP Paribas Open, which will crown its first men’s winner ranked outside the Top 25 since 2010. Beth Harris, ajc, 17 Oct. 2021 As a result, thousands of families were soon living in trailers again, including at the Chico site, which cost more than $300,000 per trailer to set up. Washington Post, 17 Oct. 2021 Patricia, now the Patriots’ senior football adviser, reached out to Tavai to set up a reunion in New England., 17 Oct. 2021 The Utes made the commitment to run the ball, not giving up on the pass, but utilizing their ground game to the form of the oldest cliche in all of football — run the ball to set up the pass. Gordon Monson, The Salt Lake Tribune, 17 Oct. 2021 Ford ran for 20 yards then caught a pass for 23 to set up Desmond Ridder’s lone touchdown pass. Jason Beede,, 16 Oct. 2021 Last month, TikTok began testing a way for brands to set up shop within the app and send users to checkout on their sites. Joseph Pisani, USA TODAY, 16 Oct. 2021 To help states and cities prepare, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week sent out a seven-page document with guidance on how to set up expanded vaccination programs. Compiled Democrat-gazette Staff From Wire Reports, Arkansas Online, 16 Oct. 2021

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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Time Traveler for setup

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near setup



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Last Updated

12 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Setup.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Oct. 2021.

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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
: a situation in which someone is deliberately put in a bad position or made to look guilty

More from Merriam-Webster on setup

Nglish: Translation of setup for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of setup for Arabic Speakers


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