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 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 The setup is not as privacy-protective as other specialized cryptocurrencies, such as Zcash and Monero, strive to be. Robert Hackett, Fortune, "Facebook Cryptocurrency: Calibra’s Privacy Implications," 18 June 2019 This setup is a great, novel hook to re-enter the franchise. Josh Spiegel, The Hollywood Reporter, "The Hidden Potential of 'Men in Black: International'," 15 June 2019 The setup is that Hemsworth was getting into character for this version of Thor, the version who drinks beer and only beer and plays way too much Fortnite. Nick Romano,, "Watch Chris Hemsworth's Fat Thor sing Johnny Cash on Avengers: Endgame set," 13 June 2019 The whole camera setup is flush with the glass body of the phone. Ron Amadeo, Ars Technica, "Get an early look at the very rectangular Samsung Galaxy Note 10," 7 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

That's the way it's set up and nobody shows much interest in wanting to change it. Liz Cantrell, Town & Country, "Why the Art Market Will Soon See the First Billion Dollar Sale," 19 June 2019 Each movement forced the police to reassess their location and set up a new containment line. Bree Burkitt,, "A frantic call, a final standoff: 'Please don't hurt him. He just needs help'," 19 June 2019 Hellon also helps with first-grade reading groups in the classroom, directs morning drop-off traffic for the school and helps set up and organize Olympic Field Day. Emily Sorensen, Pomerado News, "PUSD honors 2019 Volunteers of the Year," 14 June 2019 Plans are to set up an outdoor soccer field on south Genesee Street from Water to Lake streets. Dan Moran, Lake County News-Sun, "Moran: Waukegan makes 'such a powerful statement' by hosting first celebration of LGBTQ Pride Month," 14 June 2019 The community can keep track of donations by checking the thermometer that Rotarian Patrick Osio has set up off 10th and Main streets. Ramona Sentinel, "Rotary kicks off fireworks campaign," 13 June 2019 That's because of the way our body's set up with two complementary systems, Dr. Bollu explains. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "What Happens to Your Body When You’re Sleep Deprived," 10 June 2019 An information booth was set up on one of the main streets lined with brasseries and big-name retail stores, such as Footlocker and Zara. Alicia Delgallo, Pro Soccer USA, "USWNT greeted warmly in Reims, France ahead of first World Cup match," 9 June 2019 Neighborhoods are encouraged to set up a donation drive for Family Shelter Service at their events. Michelle Mullins, Naperville Sun, "Naperville News Digest," 7 June 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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Learn More about setup

Statistics for setup

Last Updated

6 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).


characterized by aphorism

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