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 That’s the setup for this film — and it’s plenty dramatic. Noel Murray, Los Angeles Times, "Review: Nature has its say in gory and dramatic thriller ‘Hunter Hunter’," 17 Dec. 2020 Even the basic structure of many sentences follows the grammar of a joke: a setup and a punch line. Theodore Gioia, The New Republic, "Death to the Negative Restaurant Review," 16 Dec. 2020 Also on a more base level, the high-tech camera setup and almost reality TV framing of the series also reflects the world of Battle Royale, where the kids' fight for their lives was televised. Rosie Knight,, "The Wilds Puts Clever Twists On Pop Culture’s Most Classic Survival Stories," 14 Dec. 2020 The monthly bill to taxpayers to keep the fence standing is about $8,200, according to the Department of Administration, on top of a setup and removal fee of between $18,000 and $23,000. Stephen Montemayor, Star Tribune, "The People's House? Months after riots, Minnesota Capitol still fenced in," 5 Dec. 2020 Firepits that burn wood or are powered by gas, such as propane, are widely available at numerous price points at hardware stores and big-box retailers; buy one with clear instructions for setup and use. Washington Post, "Your firepit can be a respite during this coronavirus winter. Here’s how to use it safely.," 4 Dec. 2020 With noise canceling, a versatile feature set, easy setup and good sound, these are our favorite earbuds at a fantastic price. Ryan Waniata, USA TODAY, "Cyber Monday 2020: The best AirPods deals right now," 30 Nov. 2020 Party hosts receive party pack with wine, party favors, a playbook for easy setup and more. Luann Gibbs, The Enquirer, "Things to do in Cincinnati this week: Oct. 12-18," 11 Oct. 2020 The setup — a seated woman, an audience, a pair of scissors — is simple. New York Times, "The 25 Most Influential Works of American Protest Art Since World War II," 15 Oct. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The officer who had set up the network served in Germany’s elite special forces, the KSK, based in Calw, and went by the name of Hannibal. New York Times, "A Far-Right Terrorism Suspect With a Refugee Disguise: The Tale of Franco A.," 29 Dec. 2020 The speediest payments will be made to Americans who have set up a direct deposit account with the IRS. Nicolás Rivero, Quartz, "Trump signed the second Covid relief package," 28 Dec. 2020 Under the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul law passed after the Great Recession, the Fed can only set up emergency programs with the support of the treasury secretary. Andrew Taylor And Christopher Rugaber,, "Second stimulus check updates: Late-night deal on Fed powers clears way for vote on COVID-19 relief bill," 20 Dec. 2020 Under the Dodd-Frank financial reform law passed after the Great Recession, the Fed can only set up emergency programs with the support of the treasury secretary. Andrew Taylor, Anchorage Daily News, "Negotiators reach deal on last major obstacle to federal COVID-19 relief package," 20 Dec. 2020 Everyone was safe, though the home was destroyed, according to Patti Fanshier, a family friend who set up the GoFundMe. Michael Ruiz, Fox News, "Home of Oklahoma nurse treating coronavirus patients burns in middle of her shift: Report," 18 Dec. 2020 There are less than 40 people total—who set up the big top, sell the tickets and concessions, perform the acts—everything. National Geographic, "Episode 8: A Traveling Circus and its Great Escape," 15 Dec. 2020 The Rowlett sighting was made by Stephanie Higgins and her boyfriend, Logan Aduddell, who had set up the trail camera on the edge of their property near Lake Ray Hubbard. David Tarrant, Dallas News, "On the move? Mountain lion sighted in Collin County 3 weeks after confirmed report in Rowlett," 10 Dec. 2020 DoorDash was born in 2013, when CEO Tony Xu and some classmates at Stanford University set up a website and posted local menus. CBS News, "DoorDash shares rise 80% in one of the hottest IPOs of 2020," 9 Dec. 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

22 Dec 2020

Cite this Entry

“Setup.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Jan. 2021.

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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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Comments on setup

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