set·​up | \ˈset-ˌəp \

Definition of setup 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : carriage of the body especially : erect and soldierly bearing

b : constitution, makeup

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


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

b : bring about

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

b : frame sense 3

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

With the setup of the 1.47-mile, 14-turn course, what kind of speeds can these cars get up to during the race? Michelle R. Martinelli, For The Win, "6 things to know about Formula E's championship race in New York," 13 July 2018 And unlike older homebrew VPN code, Jigsaw says it's focused on making the setup and hosting of that server simple enough that even small, less savvy organizations or even individual users can do it in minutes. Wired Staff, WIRED, "All the Gear We Loved in March," 31 Mar. 2018 The setup of each of the Pacific Rim movies is, essentially, goofy nonsense straight out of the mind of a hyperactive eight-year old: robots fighting monsters throughout major cities! Josh Spiegel, The Hollywood Reporter, "Why John Boyega Rises Above 'Pacific Rim'," 24 Mar. 2018 The case is the latest incident that raises questions about the unusual global setup of the major accounting firms, which are networks of legally separate affiliates in 150-plus countries, and allegations of wrongdoing by some of those affiliates. Michael Rapoport, WSJ, "KPMG, Deloitte, BDO to Pay Fines Over Audit at South African Company," 13 Mar. 2018 The team’s star, midfielder Luka Modrić, has two goals so far, but his role is more that of a dynamic setup man. Katherine Fominykh,, "World Cup final weekend: how to watch the matchups, plus time and odds," 14 July 2018 Phelps was 30 years old with one year of control remaining and a 3.45 ERA as a setup man. Matthew Defranks,, "As trade deadline nears for Marlins, team won't 'do anything rash, nothing emotional,' Michael Hill says," 11 July 2018 The Rockies invested heavily in their bullpen last winter, committing $106 million to closer Wade Davis and the setup men Jake McGee and Bryan Shaw. Tyler Kepner, New York Times, "A Rookie Treasures Lessons From Roy Halladay," 16 June 2018 That wasn’t expected when last season ended and Kontos was coming off a masterful two months as Pittsburgh’s setup man while Crick was destined for a key role in the Giants’ bullpen after successfully converting from starter to reliever. John Shea, San Francisco Chronicle, "Trayce Thompson, Klay’s brother, seeks permanent baseball home," 2 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

That sets up the need for a sixth starter against the Diamondbacks on July 23. Mark Gonzales,, "Cubs manager Joe Maddon emphasizes 'good old-fashioned baseball' in meeting," 15 July 2018 The researchers set up pieces of slime mold in the lab and placed dishes of oatmeal, one of the organism’s favorite foods, a short distance away. Katia Moskvitch, WIRED, "Slime Molds Remember—But Do They Learn?," 14 July 2018 Within hours of the Janus decision, the organization set up its website, My Pay My Say, which allows public employees in all 50 states to obtain information about their new rights under Janus. Erica L. Green,, "Teachers unions hustle to ensure their survival after Janus decision," 14 July 2018 Childress set up a fundraising page to help may for medical costs. CBS News, "Giant hogweed sends Virginia teen to hospital, burn unit," 13 July 2018 Scott set up a Super PAC to help Trump during the campaign and has visited the president at the White House and Trump’s Mar-A-Lago resort in Palm Beach. Washington Post, "In Senate race, Florida governor in balancing act with Trump," 13 July 2018 The production team even set up a fake Amazon listing for a book supposedly authored by Cain. Jean Bentley, The Hollywood Reporter, "Sacha Baron Cohen's 'Who Is America?': All the Details (So Far) About the Showtime Comedy," 13 July 2018 In 2016 IceCube's operators set up an alert service, with the hope of getting more telescopes at different wavelengths involved in the hunt. Daniel Clery, Science | AAAS, "Ghostly particle caught in polar ice ushers in new way to look at the universe," 12 July 2018 In 2014, the Obama administration set up a clemency initiative that led to 1,715 sentence commutations, by far the most of any president. Campbell Robertson, New York Times, "Pardon Seekers Have a New Strategy in the Trump Era: ‘It’s Who You Know’," 12 July 2018

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

9 Nov 2018

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

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

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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).


something that serves to warn or remind

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