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
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 This set of bar tools is a must-have for anyone with a home bar setup. Camryn Rabideau, USA TODAY, "30 incredible gifts you can get at Wayfair under $25," 19 Oct. 2020 With warm, powerful sound and easy setup, the A2+ is a huge evolutionary leap compared to whatever is packed inside your laptop’s aluminum casing. Paige Szmodis, Popular Mechanics, "The Best Computer Speakers to Elevate Your Tunes, Gaming, and Movies," 19 Oct. 2020 The Pixel 5 continues the 5G party with the same dual camera setup on the back, a slightly smaller display and more color options. Jacob Krol, CNN Underscored, "From Nest Audio to the Pixel 5, here’s everything Google announced at Launch Night In," 1 Oct. 2020 Spencer’s vermouth-bottle collection, along with a full drinks setup. Stephanie Hunt, Southern Living, "Cottage Charm: This 2,000-Square-Foot Virginia Home is Filled with Vintage Style," 18 Sep. 2020 The learning space is approximately 2,500 square feet with a room setup for each element of STEAM. David Taylor, Houston Chronicle, "Cy-Fair grad gifting education to his community," 23 Aug. 2020 He was impressed with the quality of the fields and with the setup the MLS provided. oregonlive, "Despite early doubts, Sebastian Blanco settled into the MLS bubble and was the MLS is Back tournament’s best player," 13 Aug. 2020 Donna Palmer of Broadview, who has attended concerts in the past in Oak Brook, also was impressed with the setup created by the park district. Chuck Fieldman,, "Social distancing doesn’t prevent successful summer concert series for park district," 7 Aug. 2020 The primary suite was added in a recent renovation and includes a large bathroom with a unique setup. Dallas News, "What’s the most-loved home style in America? This five-bedroom North Dallas house has the answer," 5 Aug. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The Grand Isle Multiplex will host one day of early voting on Oct. 20 from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. and then from 1 p.m. until 3 p.m. Drop boxes will be set up outside each early voting location for those who have filled out absentee ballots. Sarah Ravits,, "Today’s the last day for Louisiana to register to vote online; help postpone the apocalypse," 13 Oct. 2020 More than two dozen administration officials, associates and others have tested positive Throughout the room, stations will be set up with PPE (personal protective equipment), including gloves, hand sanitizer and other cleaning equipment. Christal Hayes, USA TODAY, "Here's what to expect at Amy Coney Barrett's Supreme Court confirmation hearings and who to watch for," 12 Oct. 2020 The bill would set up a commission to assess the president's ability to lead the country and ensure a continuity of government. Lisa Mascaro, Star Tribune, "Pelosi unveils 25th Amendment bid, questions Trump's fitness," 9 Oct. 2020 The bill would set up a commission to assess the president's ability to lead the country and ensure a continuity of government. Arkansas Online, "Pelosi unveils 25th Amendment bid, questions Trump's fitness," 9 Oct. 2020 The bill would set up a commission to assess the president’s ability to lead the country and ensure a continuity of government. Lisa Mascaro,, "House Speaker Nancy Pelosi unveils 25th Amendment bid, questions Trump’s fitness to serve," 9 Oct. 2020 Tool Sale, which includes hand tools, power tools, drills, saws and ladders, will be set up in a safe and socially-distanced garage sale style with masks required and hand sanitizer available. John Benson, cleveland, "Lakewood Tool Box cleaning out the shed for its ‘Tool Box: Tool Sale’ scheduled for Oct. 17," 9 Oct. 2020 Anyway, that fascination will now turn to Rice-Eccles Stadium and how it will be set up on a game day during the pandemic. Josh Newman, The Salt Lake Tribune, "Red All Over: Utah football is actually happening this time, right?," 8 Oct. 2020 Merchants and select pop-up shops will set up on the sidewalks directly outside Over-the-Rhine storefronts, transforming the whole neighborhood into a socially-distant sidewalk fair from noon-5 p.m. Sunday. Luann Gibbs, The Enquirer, "Top 5 things to do in Cincinnati this weekend: Oct. 9-11," 7 Oct. 2020

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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Statistics for setup

Last Updated

23 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Setup.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for setup


How to pronounce set up (audio)

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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