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

The typical setup is to have stereo sound by combining the bottom-firing speaker with the front-firing earpiece, which can double as a normal speaker. Ron Amadeo, Ars Technica, "In renders, the Pixel 4 trades a giant notch for a giant forehead," 8 July 2019 If the setup is just right — and if the universe cooperates — some of those particles will transform into mirror-image versions of themselves, allowing them to tunnel right through the wall. NBC News, "Scientists are searching for a mirror universe. It could be sitting right in front of you.," 30 June 2019 The setup is so easy that my mom was able to unbox and set up her own Ring doorbell. Dallas News, "The Ring Stick Up Cam Battery works with no wires at all," 27 June 2019 One of the biggest problems nannies and caretakers deal with is the informal setup of their work. Alexia Fernández Campbell, Vox, "Housekeepers and nannies in Philadelphia may soon win basic legal rights," 21 June 2019 The foremost risk in such a setup is bathos: the poor kid! John Domini, Dallas News, "An Italian teenager meets the family she didn't know existed in 'A Girl Returned'," 1 July 2019 In this setup, shoppers place bids on new items and prices are determined entirely by supply and demand. Erin Griffith, New York Times, "Buy Low-Tops, Sell High-Tops: StockX Sneaker Exchange Is Worth $1 Billion," 26 June 2019 The foremost risk in such a setup is bathos: the poor kid! John Domini, Washington Post, "A teenager meets the family she didn’t know existed in ‘A Girl Returned’," 13 June 2019 Soon after the frightening accident, NASCAR sought all available footage, including data from on-car cameras and monitors, to see if something in the setup helped Larson’s car head into the air. Pete Iacobelli, The Seattle Times, "NASCAR won’t recommend changes after Talladega crash," 18 May 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Many of the companies that set up shop in the city aren’t even based here: It’s Facebook leasing a new office tower or a startup opening up a satellite office to give young workers the option of city living. Gregory Barber, WIRED, "No More Deals: San Francisco Considers Raising Taxes on Tech," 16 July 2019 Quick Fix: Take 30 minutes to set up a quick free site on platforms like WordPress or Squarespace. 3. Nicole Walters, Essence, "How To Act Like a Business and Get Paid Like One," 16 July 2019 Fritz contacted Exner, who had set up a design firm with his son Virgil Jr. after leaving Chrysler. Mark Phelan, Detroit Free Press, "The Last Duesenberg is about to go to auction. Why this car is special," 13 July 2019 Owners can draw rents from flight schools, airport brokerages, and cargo companies that set up onsite, and as with commercial airports, landing and parking fees are levied on planes. Mark Ellwood, Condé Nast Traveler, "Everything You've Ever Wanted to Know About Private Airports," 12 July 2019 When Ono Ice first started making appearances in 2012, the operation consisted of a hand-crank ice shaver and a cooler that owner Rebecca Davis would set up on a folding table outside of restaurants and breweries in town. Birmingham Magazine,, "Birmingham City Bite: Shave Ice from Ono Ice," 11 July 2019 Get our daily newsletter In 2008 the French government set up the Stiglitz-Sen-Fitoussi commission to create new national accounts which go beyond GDP and reflect things like the quality of life and the state of the environment. The Economist, "Why are happy people voting for angry parties?," 11 July 2019 As players succeed, some villagers offer to take their talents to the Isle of Awakening, where Lulu sets up shop. Gieson Cacho, The Mercury News, "Review: ‘Dragon Quest Builders 2’ creates cohesive whole out of ‘Minecraft’ formula," 11 July 2019 One at a time, the goats were brought into a rectangular pen, where a loudspeaker had been set up outside the main gate and hidden with camouflage netting, rendering the goats unable to see it. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "Goats May Be Able to Tell When Their Buddies Are Feeling Good or Baaad," 10 July 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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Statistics for setup

Last Updated

20 Jul 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).


an act or instance of editing or removing

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