set·​ting ˈse-tiŋ How to pronounce setting (audio)
: the manner, position, or direction in which something is set
: the frame or bed in which a gem is set
also : style of mounting
: the time, place, and circumstances in which something occurs or develops
: the time and place of the action of a literary, dramatic, or cinematic work
: the scenery used in a theatrical or film production
: the music composed for a text (such as a poem)
: the articles of tableware for setting a place at table
two settings of sterling silver
: a batch of eggs for incubation
Choose the Right Synonym for setting

background, setting, environment, milieu, mise-en-scène mean the place, time, and circumstances in which something occurs.

background often refers to the circumstances or events that precede a phenomenon or development.

the shocking decision was part of the background of the riots

setting suggests looking at real-life situations in literary or dramatic terms.

a militant reformer who was born into an unlikely social setting

environment applies to all the external factors that have a formative influence on one's physical, mental, or moral development.

the kind of environment that produces juvenile delinquents

milieu applies especially to the physical and social surroundings of a person or group of persons.

an intellectual milieu conducive to artistic experimentation

mise-en-scène strongly suggests the use of properties to achieve a particular atmosphere or theatrical effect.

a gothic thriller with a carefully crafted mise-en-scène

Example Sentences

This would be a beautiful setting for a picnic. He tends to be shy in social settings. dining in a casual setting The movie changes the play's setting from the late 18th century to the year 2000. She uses modern-day Los Angeles as the setting for her book. Save money by turning the temperature settings up in the summer and down in the winter. She just learned how to change the settings on her camera. See More
Recent Examples on the Web In this setting, fragile remains repatriated in crates will inevitably fall into neglect or worse. Paul Sereno, Chicago Tribune, 24 Mar. 2023 Finding a backpack tote that can pass the test in a professional setting can be difficult, but the Cole Haan Grand Ambition Convertible Backpack gets the job done. Katherine Alex Beaven, Travel + Leisure, 24 Mar. 2023 Served in a familial setting, the dishes are influenced by the Employee Meal team's cultures, regions of origin, or traditions. Susan Selasky, Detroit Free Press, 23 Mar. 2023 Beyond the finances, the Buttles’ plan to get hitched in a beloved outdoor setting just made more sense to them than doing it in an anonymous banquet hall. Dakota Kim, Los Angeles Times, 23 Mar. 2023 Being intentional about your visibility is more critical in a hybrid setting. Luciana Paulise, Forbes, 23 Mar. 2023 My practitioner started me at a low setting, but slowly increased it as I got used to the feeling. Jesa Marie Calaor, Allure, 23 Mar. 2023 As a chaplain working in a hospital setting, Walker is often the first person who will speak with families grieving the loss of a loved one. Nicole S. Daniel | The Birmingham Times, al, 23 Mar. 2023 When dining alfresco, herbs and flower shrubs envelop guests in a setting that offers lingering views of the sun setting on Johnson Bay and a few bobbing yachts parked alongside the adjacent dock. Robyn George, USA TODAY, 22 Mar. 2023 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'setting.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of setting was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near setting

Cite this Entry

“Setting.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition


: the manner, position, or direction in which something is set
change a thermostat setting
: a frame or holder in which something is mounted
a setting for a diamond
: the background (as time and place) of the action of a story or performance
: the articles of tableware required for setting a place at table
two settings of silver
: a batch of eggs for hatching

More from Merriam-Webster on setting

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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