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

Examples of setting in a Sentence

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 The cuisine is a true cultural expression with dishes like Lumpia, Adobo, and Kare-Kare served up in convivial settings. Nicole Kliest, Vogue, 10 Feb. 2024 The senior bankers leading the calls didn’t put a complete curb on consumption of alcohol, noting that drinking in business settings has wide cultural acceptance, the people said. Gillian Tan, Fortune, 10 Feb. 2024 The property would be a good setting to use for private functions or corporate retreats, George Handgis said. David Caraccio, Sacramento Bee, 10 Feb. 2024 Visitors can view galleries in a quieter setting, an hour before the museum opens to the public, and a special documentary screening with lights on and lower volume is at 10 a.m. Linda McIntosh, San Diego Union-Tribune, 9 Feb. 2024 In wind tunnel experiments, Chan and company tested how well hawkmoths located different scent sources, including their fake floral scent, a real flower, and their primrose perfume mixed with nitrate radicals and ozone in similar concentrations to what might be expected in an urban setting. Popular Science, 8 Feb. 2024 The setting is a classroom in Karaj, Iran, in 2008. Charles McNulty, Los Angeles Times, 7 Feb. 2024 With convection settings, the unit serves as a microwave, toaster oven, and air fryer all in one. Deanne Revel, Better Homes & Gardens, 7 Feb. 2024 Choose from various light settings to set the mood. Cristian Esteban, Rolling Stone, 7 Feb. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'setting.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

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 24 Feb. 2024.

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

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